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Protect Yourself: How to Prevent Credit Card Fraud

What happened at Target last month is intractable to any credit card holder, but incidents like this one are more common and preventable.

Grosse Ile police said Jan.1 that a man reported he was the victim of credit card fraud after discovering nearly $3,000 worth of charges purchased under his name.

The victim told police he first noticed the fraudulent purchases Dec.27 when he received several confirmation emails from the stores.

On Dec. 23, $1,239.96 was charged on the victim’s credit card at Toy’s "R" Us around 5:15 p.m. About 15 minutes later, a charge was made at Game Stop for $1,029.99, and again at 5:57 p.m. for $582.99 at Kmart, the report said. 

The man told police a fourth charge of $1,057.88 was later attempted at Walmart, but denied.

It was not clear in the report whether the purchases were made online or in person.

Protect Yourself

What happened at Target last month is intractable to any credit card holder, but incidents like this one are more common and preventable.

The Federal Trade Commission offers several tips for keeping your credit and identity information safe.

Keep a close hold on your Social Security number and ask questions before deciding to share it. Ask if you can use a different kind of identification. If someone asks you to share your SSN or your child’s, ask:
  • why they need it
  • how it will be used
  • how they will protect it
  • what happens if you don’t share the number
Be Alert to Impersonators

Make sure you know who is getting your personal or financial information. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. 

If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service. Or, call the customer service number listed on your account statement. Ask whether the company really sent a request.

Be Wise About Wi-Fi

Before you send personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a coffee shop, library, airport, hotel, or other public place, see if your information will be protected. If you use an encrypted website, it protects only the information you send to and from that site. If you use a secure wireless network, all the information you send on that network is protected.

Securing Your Identity 

Make sure you are monitoring your accounts constantly, online or through bank statements. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately if you see any suspicious transactions.

Visit the FTC website for more information, or click here for a Fox Business report on Steps to Take if Your Credit Card Data is Hacked. 

andrew.thurlow@patch.com  

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