The thought of someone getting their hands on your credit cards and charging hundreds, even thousands of dollars, is alarming. There are companies out there that are trying to ease such fears by offering credit card loss protection programs. The Better Business Bureau, along with the Federal Trade Commission warns that some offers are not worth the money, so beware.
Credit card protection offers are popular among fraudulent promoters who are trying to exploit consumers' uncertainty. In some cases, scare tactics and misleading information is used to sell protection that is not needed. Some scam artists may even claim to be connected with your credit card issuer and ask to "verify" your account number to make sure you are protected. Your real credit card issuer does not need your account number; it already has it.
The BBB advises consumers to avoid doing business with telemarketers who claim that:
- you are liable for more than $50 in unauthorized charges on your credit card account;
- you need credit card loss protection because hackers can access your credit card number and charge thousands of dollars to your account;
- a computer bug could make it easy for thieves to place unauthorized charges on your credit card account; and
- they are from the "security department" of your credit card company and want to activate the protection feature on your credit card, but first they need to "verify" your account number to make sure you are protected.
The best defense against these types of scams is to educate yourself and know your rights as a consumer. Under federal law, you are not responsible for any charges if you report your card missing before someone else has used it, and you are not liable for more than $50 if it has been used, as long as you report the problem promptly.
Most card issuers have voluntary policies to remove unauthorized charges completely if you report them as soon as you discover them. If you are not sure what your issuer's policy is, ask.
As a precaution for all unsolicited telephone calls, never give out personal information unless you have initiated the call and know the company with which you are dealing. Also, check out any company with the Better Business Bureau before you make your purchasing decision.