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Feds tackle card fraud online

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Monday, April 30, 2012
Posted: 5 pm ET

The Feds shut down 36 websites that sell stolen credit card numbers last week.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation paired up with the U.K. law enforcement on the case, dubbed Operation Wreaking hAVoC. I'm not making this up. The capitalized letters in "havoc" spell out "AVC," which stands for automated vending carts, a name used to refer to these websites.

Undercover cops bought credit card numbers that were issued by Bank of America, SunTrust and Capital One from the sites. The Feds then checked with the banks to see if the sites were authorized to sell these credit card numbers. They weren't.

"Countless lives are thrown into financial turmoil because of these websites," said U.S. Attorney MacBride in a press release. "With a few simple clicks, thousands of stolen credit card numbers can be bought or sold to fraudsters anywhere in the world."

The good news, besides the mass website shutdown, is that your liability if your credit card number is stolen is zero under the Fair Credit Billing Act. If your actual card is stolen, you're only responsible for up to $50 in unauthorized charges, only if you haven't reported the loss of the card. (In general, most major issuers extend a zero liability policy.)

Of course, this is not an excuse to be laissez-faire when it comes to your credit card security. A breach of your credit card account could also mean a fraudster got ahold of important personal information like your name, birth date and Social Security number.

Anytime you notice a suspicious transaction on your online statement, contact your bank to report it. Also, pull your credit report to make sure no new accounts were opened in your name without your permission. You may want to check your credit reports again six months after the credit card loss to make sure nothing nefarious is going on.

Here are some other tips about dealing with credit card theft. Bankrate also offers a step-by-step guide on how to recover from identity fraud.

Have you had your credit card stolen? How long did it take to sort things out?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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