With the holidays quickly approaching, many of us will be purchasing gifts for our family, friends and business associates and using debit or credit cards to make these purchases. Most of us will be shopping either online or at brick and mortar establishments. However, with debit and credit card use, comes credit card fraud and identity theft? Because consumers are so preoccupied during this time of the year, individuals may tend to let their guard down when it comes to using their credit card or debit card. Following are some simple tips to safeguard you from credit card fraud and identity theft.
Never give your credit card number to anyone who calls you without verifying his or her identity.
Always keep your PIN (Personal Identification Number) private. Never give it out, and never keep it on you.
Some establishments have been caught adding digits to credit card slips after consumers sign them. For example, you think you are paying $25.00 for an item, but when you look at your credit card receipt, you will see $125.00.
After a purchase, make certain the card you get back is yours.
Report lost or stolen cards immediately. Credit card companies can freeze your account and issue you a new card quickly.
Review your monthly statements promptly and carefully for unauthorized purchases.
Merchants, who accept payment by credit card, must also disclose any limitations on the use of that card. Disclosure must be conspicuous at the entrance to the store and in any ads, which indicate the credit card acceptance. New York State law prohibits surcharges on credit card purchases.
Merchants, who accept payment by credit card, cannot set a minimum purchase amount for credit card use.
If you use a debit card to withdraw money from an ATM machine, make certain you take your receipt with you and review it for accuracy. Never leave or discard the receipt in a public receptacle.
Avoid using ATM machines that are located on public streets or in remote areas. Try to use an ATM machine in a bank lobby during banking hours.
If You Are Shopping Online:
Never purchase items on sites that do not have the secure icon, usually located at the bottom window at the right side. The address bar that carries the https is securer than the http prefix.
You should only shop at reputable e-commerce sites. A good clue is to look at the copyright year; if it says © 1999 and the current year is 2010, select another site or check out the company with the Butter Business Bureau. You can also send an email question to the company. If they do not respond in 72 hours, select another site.
Never give your social security number to any site or brick and mortar store.
If you suspect fraud, contact the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint, and order a copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus once a year from annualcreditreport.com
Happy smart and holiday shopping.