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Protecting Yourself Against Credit Card Fraud

Identity theft has hit epidemic proportions. This used to be a random occurrence, but with the rise of internet banking, debit cards, and other electronic cash alternatives, identity theft is a crime that the normal, everyday person has to safeguard against. Like taking vitamins to ward off disease, preventive measures exist to ward of identity theft.

First, you can call your bank and credit card providers and ask that they call you and get verbal confirmation before approving an amount over X amount of dollars. The dollar amount is going to be different for everybody depending on his/her threshold. For example, you could call your bank and tell them that any withdrawal or purchase over $750 needs to be cleared by verbal confirmation. Therefore, if a purchase over $750 is attempted on that credit card, the company will call you on the phone number that you have provided (usually a cell phone) and will ask if you are making a purchase of X amount of dollars. If you say yes, the amount is approved and on you go. However, if somebody else is trying to do this, the purchase will be denied and the thief will be caught.

The effect of this measure is that you account is protecting against “abnormal purchases.” This measure does not prevent you from buying something over your confirmation amount. All this measure does is create an additional layer of protection so that if somebody tries to use your credit cards, they will not be able to make a “big” purchase.

Second, you can sign up for a credit report monitoring company. By doing this you will know if a new account has been opened or if an inquiry has been made on your report. The credit report monitoring company will immediately notify you and ask whether the opening of the account or the inquiry is valid. If it is not, the account will be disputed and the thief will again be unmasked.

Third, do business with a bank that will guarantee to replace all stolen funds within a short period (24 – 120 hours). This way, damage to your account is minimized. If you check your account balance everyday, this measure will be extremely effective because you will immediately know whether a fraudulent purchase or withdrawal has been and where it was made.

Last, be careful and avoid things you do not know. For example, I have seen letters from identity thieves that were sent via US mail. The letter usually purports to be from a large bank and asks you for your account number, social security number, or some other private account information that is necessary to steal your identity. These letters will provide a phone number to call in case you have any questions. If you randomly get a letter or e-mail like this, NEVER call the number provided. Open up the phone book or call information and get the bank’s number. Call that number and see if the bank really sent out such a letter. NEVER reply to these kinds of letters through the mail. Think about the situation; why would your bank want this kind of information? The bank provides you with an account number, so why would they need to “verify” it through the mail? Additionally, why do they need you full name and address; didn’t they just send you a letter?

Protect yourself and protect your assets using these safety measures.

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