Protect yourself from credit card fraud

12 tips and other helpful advice to ensure your credit card and personal information stays safe.

Every day, in many ways, consumers are faced with credit card fraud. You can’t always prevent it from happening, but you can take some action to protect yourself. Michigan State University Extension personal finance educators agree – Keeping your credit cards and account numbers safe from preying eyes is the first step to stop someone from damaging your financial health.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) gives consumers the following 12 suggestions for keeping their credit cards safe from fraud:

  1. Keep a record of each of your account numbers, their expiration dates and the phone number to report fraud.
  2. Don’t lend your card to anyone — even your family members or roommates.
  3. Don’t leave your cards, receipts, or statements around your home or office. If you no longer need the cards, shred them before throwing them away.
  4. Don’t give your account number to anyone on the phone unless you’ve made the call to a company you know to be reputable.
  5. Carry your cards separately from your wallet and only carry the card you will be using while you are shopping or dining. It can minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse.
  6. During a transaction make sure you get your card back before you walk away.
  7. Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total, especially if there is a space for a “tip.”
  8. Save each and every receipt to compare with your statement.
  9. Open your bills promptly — or check them online often — and reconcile them with the purchases you’ve made.
  10. Report any questionable charges to the card issuer immediately.
  11. Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling.
  12. Don’t write your account number on the outside of an envelope.

An additional tip from the MSU Extension article Credit Card Scams & Fraud from October 2012 stated, “Protect yourself: Don’t give personal information to anyone who initiates contact with you. Go to donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222 to register your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. If a caller claims to be from your bank, tell him/her you’ll call back (to the number on your bank statement) before sharing your Social Security, account numbers, address or date of birth.”

The FTC’s bulletin, Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards: What To Do If They’re Lost or Stolen, suggests that the best protections against card fraud are to know where your cards are at all times and to keep them secure. For protection of ATM and debit cards that involve a Personal Identification Number (PIN), keep your PIN a secret. Don’t use your address, birthdate, phone or Social Security number as the PIN and do memorize the number.

America Saves Week will be held Feb. 25 to March 2. Set a goal and make a plan to save. Join more than 310,000 people who have pledged to save and take the America Saves Pledge today. America Saves is a national campaign that encourages individuals and families to save money and build personal wealth.

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