Using credit cards to make purchases has become so routine that it’s easy for consumers to forget they’re at risk of becoming the victims of fraud.
What that means is that someone could use their credit or debit cards or credit account information to obtain money or property without the card holders knowledge.
It happens in various ways. Thieves may obtain your credit card account number, PIN or security code without actually stealing your card. For example, credit card information may be stolen from unsecured websites. Thieves also may attempt to trick you into revealing your credit card information online or over the phone.
Despite the protections offered by the law, credit card fraud is at the very least a major headache for consumers. If your card or credit account information is stolen, you’ll have to contact the card issuer, cancel the card, request a new one to be mailed to your address, and then update accounts where you used the card to make automatic payments.
There’s also the danger that someone could use your stolen card to steal your identity, and recovering from that is even more complicated, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains. You may need to review your credit bureau reports, file a report with your local police department, close new credit accounts that were fraudulently opened in your name, and stop debt collectors from trying to recover money you don’t owe. If crimes were committed using your identity, you may need to clear your name of criminal charges.
While it isn’t always possible to prevent fraud, you can make it harder for thieves. What follows are five simple steps to follow to shut down the most common avenues for credit card fraud.