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, it's 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, it's 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. That's all the information most thieves need. If you have a 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. Fraud is easier than you think
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 there's 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.
There are many things that credit card companies, merchants, banks, developers, software companies, and ISP's 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 don't show the entire number on the receipt, only part of it. Other companies are using digital signature pads that don't leave a number behind where an employee might be tempted.
This won't 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 you'd like them to change to one that doesn't.
Second, watch your monthly statements and look at each transaction. If you don't remember making that transaction, question it. If you didn't 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 won't 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.
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