Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud

Q. Just recently, I've heard that thieves now have the capacity to get the number of my credit card and produce a credit card with my number on it.  Then, the thieves can actually use the card to place charges on my account. Is this true?

If so, what can I do to protect myself against my credit card getting "counterfeited?"

A. Unfortunately, credit card counterfeiting is one of the latest crimes committed by technology savvy thieves.

Yes, you are correct that, once thieves have your credit card number, they are free to use it to rack up a lot of charges.

Some of these criminals actually can transfer your card's data onto magnetic strips and physically produce a useable credit card.

Use these strategies to avoid being the victim of credit card fraud:

1. If you ever feel the slightest suspicion, pay with cash instead of your credit card. Although doing
so may not be as convenient, it's important to remember that anytime your credit card leaves
your hands, you have no idea what that person is doing with your credit card.

Because of the prolific availability of compact, handheld credit card skimming gadgets, it takes only a second or two for someone to "steal" your credit card information.

2. If you must use your credit card, then do it where you can see the card at all times. Swipe the card only once as some credit card criminals tell you to "swipe it again."

It's during your second swipe that they might actually be copying your credit card info into their skimming device.

3. Retain all your credit card receipts and compare them with your statement. Go the extra step and frequently check your credit card account online for any questionable amounts.

4. If you notice charges on your statement that you did not make or authorize, call your credit card
company immediately. Most cards include an 800 number on the back to easily contact the company.

Also, keep that number on your cell phone and on your important phone number list to access in the event your card is stolen or lost to terminate your account to avoid fraud.

5. Be knowledgeable about the ATM machine you use. Notice anything different or suspicious about how the ATM machine looks as crooks can attach a reader device to credit card machines that
captures card numbers.

Some thieves have even managed to install tiny cameras above ATMs to obtain customers' PIN numbers.

6. In the event you plan to travel out of your home state and use your credit card, give your credit card company a "heads up." Let them know your whereabouts so they'll know you're the one actually making purchases outside of your home state.

The safety and protection of your financial information is at stake. Follow these steps and stay alert to
your credit card account happenings to avoid counterfeiting of your credit cards.

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