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Help Squad: How to prevent credit card fraud, how to deal with it

Think about how often you shop at Target. Why? Because depending on how much you visit the store, you could easily have been one of the 40 million victims of the credit card security breach that took place there last month.

What happened at Target is uncontrollable to any credit card holder.

 

In other words, there was nothing any customer could have done to prevent it. That said, there are many things you can control when it comes to minimizing your chances of credit card or identity theft.

Help Squad reached out to Chase spokesperson Nicole Kennedy, who offered six tips for consumers to keep credit information safe:

1. Do not carry your Social Security card with you. Keep it in a safe place in your home.

2. Never give out personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call or are very familiar with the organization.

3. Be aware of suspicious emails that may ask for confirmation of a credit card number, PIN or other sensitive information.

4. Monitor your accounts regularly, online and/or through your statements, and contact your bank or credit card company immediately if you see any suspicious transactions.

5. Shred all documents that contain sensitive information.

6. Check your credit bureau report at least once a year.

But what if it’s too late? What if you become a victim? In other words, what can you do if your credit card gets hacked?

 

We sought the help of Linda Sherry, the director of national priorities for the Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy group, Consumer Action. Sherry offered some facts about fraud and suggestions that will surely come in handy:

• Your liability for fraudulent charges on your credit card is limited under federal law to $50, and in a lot of cases you aren’t responsible for any dollar amount.

• Debit cards are a little different when it comes to fraud. You are responsible in most cases for $50 if you notify your bank within two days. After that, it can be as high as $500. Worst case scenario, you can be responsible for unlimited charges if you fail to notify your bank within 60 days of receiving your statement.

• When you contact your credit card company for a replacement card, you shouldn’t have to pay a fee for the new card. Ask the representative to wave the fee.

• If you think there’s a possibility you were part of a security breach, review your checking account and credit card statements regularly.

• Don’t pay for expensive credit monitoring or fraud detection services. You can check your credit report annually for free using www.annualcreditreport.com

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