Hackettstown Police Department - 215 W. Stiger St. Hackettstown, NJ 07840
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Safety & Prevention


CREDIT CARD FRAUD
HOW TO RESPOND AND PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING TO YOU.

How Does Credit Card Fraud Happen?

Theft, the most obvious form of credit card fraud, can happen in a variety of ways, from low tech dumpster diving to high tech hacking. A thief might go through the trash to find discarded billing statements and then use your account information to buy things. A retail or bank website might get hacked, and your card number could be stolen and shared. Perhaps a dishonest clerk or waiter takes a photo of your credit card and uses your account to buy items or create another account. Or maybe you get a call offering a free trip or discounted travel package. But to be eligible, you have to join a club and give your account number, say, to guarantee your place. The next thing you know, charges you didn’t make are on your bill, and the trip promoters who called you are nowhere to be found.

What Can You Do?

Incorporating a few practices into your daily routine can help keep your cards and account numbers safe. For example, keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates and the phone number to report fraud for each company in a secure place. Don’t lend your card to anyone — even your kids or roommates — and don’t leave your cards, receipts, or statements around your home or office. When you no longer need them, shred them before throwing them away.

Other fraud protection practices include:

  • Don’t give your account number to anyone on the phone unless you’ve made the call to a company you know to be reputable. If you’ve never done business with them before, do an online search first for reviews or complaints.
  • Carry your cards separately from your wallet. It can minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse. And carry only the card you need for that outing.
  • During a transaction, keep your eye on your card. Make sure you get it back before you walk away.
  • Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
  • Save your receipts to compare with your statement.
  • Open your bills promptly — or check them online often — and reconcile them with the purchases you’ve made.
  • Report any questionable charges to the card issuer.
  • Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling.
  • Don’t write your account number on the outside of an envelope.

Report Losses and Fraud

Call the card issuer as soon as you realize your card has been lost or stolen. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24 hour service to deal with this. You should also follow up with filing a police report with the police department in the town that you reside in. Once you report the loss or theft, the law says you have no additional responsibility for charges you didn’t make; in any case, your liability for each card lost or stolen is $50. If you suspect that the card was used fraudulently, you may have to sign a statement under oath that you didn’t make the purchases in question.

How to Limit Your Losses

The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) offer protection if your credit, ATM, or debit cards are lost or stolen.

Credit Card Loss or Fraudulent Charges

Under the FCBA, your liability for unauthorized use of your credit card tops out at $50. However, if you report the loss before your credit card is used, the FCBA says you are not responsible for any charges you didn’t authorize. If your credit card number is stolen, but not the card, you are not liable for unauthorized use.

ATM or Debit Card Loss or Fraudulent Transfers.

If you report an ATM or debit card missing before someone uses it, the EFTA says you are not responsible for any unauthorized transactions. If someone uses your ATM or debit card before you report it lost or stolen, your liability depends on how quickly you report it:

If you report: Your maximum loss:
Before any unauthorized charges are made. $0
Within 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft. $50
More than 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft, but less than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you, $500
More than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you. All the money taken from
your ATM/debit card acount, and possibly more; for example, money in accounts linked to your debit account.

If someone makes unauthorized transactions with your debit card number, but your card is not lost, you are not liable for those transactions if you report them within 60 days of your statement being sent to you.

How to Protect Your Cards and Account Information

For Credit and ATM or Debit Cards

  • Don’t disclose your account number over the phone unless you initiate the call.
  • Guard your account information. Never leave it out in the open or write it on an envelope.
  • Keep a record of your account numbers, expiration dates, and the telephone numbers of each card issuer so you can report a loss quickly.
  • Draw a line through blank spaces on charge or debit slips above the total so the amount can’t be changed.
  • Don't sign a blank charge or debit slip.
  • Tear up copies and save your receipts to check against your monthly statements.
  • Cut up old cards — cutting through the account number — before you throw them away.
  • Open your monthly statements promptly and compare them to your receipts. Report mistakes or discrepancies as soon as possible.
  • Carry only the cards you'll need.

For ATM or Debit Cards

  • Don't carry your PIN in your wallet, purse, or pocket — or write it on your ATM or debit card. Commit it to memory.
  • Never write your PIN on the outside of a deposit slip, an envelope, or other papers that could be lost or looked at.
  • Carefully check your ATM or debit card transactions; the funds for this item will be quickly transferred out of your checking or other deposit account.
  • Periodically check your account activity, especially if you bank online. Compare the current balance and transactions on your statement to those you've recorded. Report any discrepancies to your card issuer immediately.
 

(Source: Federal Trade Commission @ftc.gov)


Questions about this article can be directed to Ptl. Smith via email
or contact Hackettstown Police Dept. at (908) 852-3302.