February 23, 2017 in Credit Cards

What is credit card fraud?

Media reports of credit card fraud are enough to get anyone’s attention. And it’s good to be cautious. In fact, Statistic Brain reports that approximately 10 percent of Americans have been victims of some form of credit card fraud.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should stop using credit cards. Instead, you should be familiar with credit card fraud so you know how to protect yourself.

How credit card thieves operate

Credit card fraud occurs when someone uses your credit card information without your permission to make unauthorized purchases. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), these are some common ways that criminals end up with credit card data.

How to protect yourself from fraud

One of the best ways to deal with credit card fraud is to prevent it from happening to you in the first place. Keep very close tabs on your cards and statements. Never lend your credit card — or credit card information — to anyone, including friends or family members.

It’s important to know where your credit card statements are at all times. Keep them together at home in a safe place. If possible, opt for electronic statements instead of paper copies. After you no longer need old statements or credit cards, shred them before tossing them out.

Here are some other common sense ways to take care of your credit card and avoid problems.

Identity theft prevention services let you know when large or abnormal charges appear. They automatically submit fraud alerts and put a freeze on your account in the event of suspicious activity. Some credit card companies and banks offer daily account reports and alerts as part of their customer perks. It’s a good idea to check what avenues are already available to you.

What to do if you’re a victim of credit card fraud

When someone steals your credit card information, the key is urgency. That’s because legally once you inform the card company of credit card theft, your liability is limited to $50 and you’re not responsible for later charges, according to the FTC. Here are some steps that experts recommend taking right away.