5. Protect Yourself From Fraud


Card-issuers will never call or email you, asking you to ‘verify’ your account information. They already have it.

Ignore any threats or expression of urgency you receive by phone or email, indicating that your account will be de-activated if you do not respond immediately and ‘verify’ your information.

You are your own best line of defense to protect yourself from credit card fraud. Here's how:

  • Sign your card immediately when you receive it in the mail.
  • Carry only the cards you expect to use, and keep them secure.
  • Secure — in your home — other cards you may not regularly use.
  • Keep a list of account and telephone numbers for your card issuers in case your cards are lost or stolen. Once you report the loss or theft, you will not be liable for unauthorized charges.
  • Keep a copy of this list both at home and at your work.
  • Notify your card issuer(s) in advance if you have a change of address.
  • Notify your card issuer(s) in advance if you plan to travel outside the US and use the credit card.
  • Be very cautious about giving anyone your account number.
  • Do not give your cards to anyone.
  • Keep your pass code and personal pin number secure. Do not put it in writing…and do not share it with anyone.
  • Use only reputable companies with secure websites for online shopping.
  • Email is not secure. Never include your credit card number (or SS Number) in an email.
  • Shred all paper documents containing your personal identifiers (account number, name, address) before disposing.
  • When you are expecting a new or replacement credit card or debit card, look for it in the mail.
  • Report a lost or stolen credit card or debit card immediately.

BBB Tip: Indicators of a Secure Web Site

Look for well-known seals…and then roll your cursor over the seal to see if it’s active and clicks through to the seal-issuer.

Common online seals of authenticity or security include (among others)

  • BBB Accredited Business
  • Yahoo Merchant
  • Verisign-secured
  • TRUSTe
  • McAfee-secured

BBB Tip: Protecting Yourself from Unauthorized Charges

  • First, check your own records. If you are sure you did not make the charge, call the merchant to request a credit, no matter how small the charge. Some identity thieves ‘experiment’ with a small, unauthorized charge to see if you’ll notice before they take the next step.
  • If the merchant does not respond to you or reverse the charge, call the Customer Service number at your issuing bank, and find out what their process is to dispute a charge with a merchant.