Senior America's Information Magazine


Credit card fraud

Stealing your credit card numbers 

Credit card fraud - One of the easiest ways for criminals to commit fraud is by stealing credit card numbers and using them for a short period.  That may not sound like the easiest thing to do because your credit card never leaves your wallet.  You would know it if your card was missing for even a day or so.  But still, itís easier than you think.

When was the last time you were at a restaurant or grocery store and used your credit card?  If you are like most people, itís probably been within the last couple of days.  Have you ever looked at the receipt you sign?  

In many cases, the full credit card number, expiration date, and your full name is on the card.  Thatís all the information most thieves need.  If you have an one of a kind name, live in the same town as the restaurant, and are in the phone directory, the thief now has your address and phone number.

The next step for many criminals is the computer and an online connection.  Any connection will do.  There are thousands of websites where people can download music, purchase downloadable software, and then thereís the porn sites.  The average thief knows that he has perhaps 30-40 days of potential use on that card though you can bet that in most cases, the card has been maxed out in a day or two.

Improving credit card security

There are many things that credit card companies, merchants, banks, developers, software companies, and ISPís are doing to help stop this kind of fraud.  Users are often required to give very specific information, new codes are being added to credit cards, credit card usage patterns are monitored, and many companies are now tracking users through the use of IP addresses. 

Businesses are also starting to use machines that donít show the entire number on the receipt, only part of it.  Other companies are using digital signature pads that donít leave a number behind where an employee might be tempted.

This wonít be enough to stop credit card hijackers but it may help knock some of the amateurs out or at least help catch them.  There are some things though that consumers can do to help reduce the fraud. 

First, take a look at your credit card slips each time you sign one.  If the business is using a receipt method that shows your full account number, tell them that youíd like them to change to one that doesnít.

Second, watch your monthly statements and look at each transaction.  If you donít remember making that transaction, question it.  If you didnít make the transaction, let the credit card company know regardless of the amount.

Documents that have your account information on them should be shredded before being tossed.  Garbage pickers wonít be able to get your private information if your papers are properly disposed of.

If your card number is stolen

If your credit card or credit card number has been stolen, you are protected by Federal law as long as you report the information when you learn about it.  If you don't report it, you may be liable for the entire bill.  

Once you learn about the theft, the first place you should call is your credit card company.  They will put an immediate halt on the credit card so that it cannot be processed anymore.  This can happen in a matter of seconds.  They will then contact the authorities and provide them with any available information to catch the thief and send you a new credit card.

Disclaimer:  These pages are created to inform and educate the public only.  They are not and should not be considered legal opinions or advice.  You do not and cannot have any client-attorney relationship with SeniorMag or any of its employees.  You should not act upon legal advice found on SeniorMag and are advised to seek professional counsel before taking any action based upon information found on this site. 


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