The cost of credit and charge card fraud -- to card holders and to card companies alike -- was $864 million in 1992. Everyone pays for credit and charge card fraud in higher prices, whether or not they are personally defrauded.
While theft is the most obvious form of credit and charge card fraud, fraud occurs in other ways, as well. For example, someone may use your card number (not the card itself) without your permission. This may occur in a variety of ways:
Here are some suggested precautions you can take to help protect yourself against credit and charge card fraud. You also may want to instruct any other person who is authorized to use your account to take the same precautions.
Sign your new cards as soon as they arrive.
Carry your cards separately from your wallet. Keep a record of your card numbers, their expiration dates, and the phone number and address of each company in a secure place.
Keep your card in view, whenever you can, after you give it to a clerk. Retrieve your card promptly after using it.
Avoid signing a blank receipt, whenever possible. Draw a line through blank spaces above the total when you sign card receipts.
Void or destroy all carbons and incorrect receipts.
Save your card receipts to compare with your billing statements.
Open billing statements promptly and reconcile your card accounts each month, just as you would your checking account.
Report promptly and in writing any questionable charges to the card issuer.
Notify card companies in advance of a change in address.
In addition, here are some things you should not do:
Never lend your card(s) to anyone.
Never leave your cards or receipts lying around.
Never put your card number on a postcard or on the outside of an envelope.
Never give your number over the phone unless you are initiating a transaction with a company you know is reputable. If you have questions about a company, check with your local consumer protection office or Better Business Bureau before ordering.
If your credit or charge cards are lost or stolen, call the issuer(s) immediately. Most card companies have a toll-free number for reporting missing cards. Some companies provide 24-hour service. By law, once you report the loss or theft, you have no further liability for unauthorized charges. In any event, your maximum liability under federal law is $50 per card.
If you suspect that someone has illegally used your credit card, call the card issuer immediately. Use the special telephone number that many card issuers list on their billing statements. You also may want to follow up your phone call with a letter. You may be asked to sign a statement under oath that you did not make the purchase(s) in question, but you cannot be required to do so.
For more information about your credit rights, write to: Public Reference, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580 for these free publications: Credit Billing Errors; Fair Credit Billing; Lost or Stolen: Credit and ATM Cards; and Telemarketing Travel Fraud. You also can write to this address for a free copy of Best Sellers, which lists all the FTC's consumer and business publications.
FTC CONSUMER & SMALL BUSINESS ADVISORY - PUBLIC DOCUMENT
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