PLAY YOUR (CREDIT) CARDS CLOSE TO YOUR CHEST

Becoming a victim of credit card fraud can be a nasty shock. Nobody wants to learn they’ve just bought $2000 worth of furniture from a nice store three states away. To prevent fraud both in person and online, you can follow some simple recommendations from both the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

First and foremost, know that the worst place to store your important information (social security number, credit card and bank information, and PINs) is on your person or in your wallet! Keep your information somewhere safe and out of sight at your private home.

Next, when making transactions in person, keep a close eye on your credit card to prevent dishonest clerks from swiping it through a skimming device (which “skims” your information right off the magnetic strip). They could also add a phony tip to your receipt after you’ve signed it, so mark through the tip section and tally your purchase before handing it back. For added safety, take your receipts home with you and check them against your credit card bill. Then, if you can’t stand to store the receipts and the bill in a safe place, shred them well.

Finally, for online transactions, make sure you’re familiar with the vendor and their online security measures. The FBI suggests you check the website’s encryption software – which is great if you can recognize quality encryption. If not, try contacting the vendor by his phone number and see if a real person picks up – or if the line is mysteriously unavailable. You can always check with the Better Business Bureau to see how they have performed in the past. If there are plenty of complaints filed, take your money and credit card information elsewhere.

Ultimately, the FTC states that Federal law restricts your liability to $50 per card once you’ve reported the loss or theft of that credit card. To do this effectively, make sure you have your company’s contact information in a readily accessible place and call them the moment you realize your card is missing. For more recommendations, go to the FTC’s website, www.ftc.gov, and click on “Consumer Protection.”

Stewart Pelto

Stewart Pelto

Stewart Pelto is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is now the proud recipient of a Master’s degree in French Literature – a degree that honed the same researching and writing skills he uses to write informative articles today. While pursuing this degree, he taught French courses to undergraduate students for two years. What he enjoyed most about the position was the challenge of making difficult concepts readily understandable and accessible to all.

He served as a Senator for the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, fighting to keep tuition costs down for graduate students struggling with their finances and student loans. He also developed his budgeting skills during his time as a Treasurer for the Graduate Romance Association. He enjoyed becoming more active in his local community and working to make a positive effect on his surroundings.

While an undergraduate himself, he spent a year abroad in Europe earning his degree in Spanish and French. While studying in both Sevilla, Spain, and Montpellier, France, he was exposed to the everyday reality of living under different economic and financial systems. Among other interesting travels he has made is a financial pilgrimage to the Spanish stock market in Madrid.

Stewart Pelto brings his rigorous academic education and his international experience to the problem of raising credit awareness and promoting financial responsibility. He hopes that his articles will teach his readers about debt and credit in an easily accessible and readily understandable way.
Stewart Pelto