2008-01-10 / Other News

AARP Warns Of Rise In Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is increasing, warns the AARP, and it costs businesses and consumers. Businesses pass the costs of fraud on to consumers with higher prices, interest rates and fees. Anyone victimized by a credit card scam pays in terms of time and inconvenience to getting their credit card cleared. Consumers usually are not required to pay unauthorized charges - especially if they notify the credit card company immediately after discovering a problem. The law sets the limit at $50 and many credit card companies lower that to zero, if the problem is promptly reported.

Credit card companies are taking steps to make credit cards more secure. Some cards display a photograph of the card holder so criminals can't make face-to-face purchases with a stolen credit card. Most cards have holograms, secret imprints, or hidden images so thieves have a harder time making a new credit card with a stolen credit card number.

"Despite these improvements, you still could become a victim of credit card fraud," warns Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State Director.

Use common sense when it comes to credit cards. Don't lend your card to anyone else. Some other tips:

•Only carry one or two credit cards.

•Don't write your PIN (personal identification number) on your credit card.

•Immediately report lost or stolen cards to the credit card company. The credit card company can stop the thief by canceling your credit card number. A thief doesn't need your credit card to charge merchandise to your account - only your credit card number.

If you receive an offer for a new credit card in the mail and don't intend to use it, make sure to shred the application form. Some crooks go through trash looking for discarded but still usable applications in your name.

AARP suggests some other ways to protect your credit card number:

•When checking out at store registers, shield your credit card from the people around you.

•Don't give your credit card number to a telemarketer unless you are positive he or she represents a reputable company or you placed the call.

•Con artists also may pretend to be your credit card company or bank and say they need to verify your card number because of some "computer problem." Verify directly with the credit card company using the telephone number on your card.

•Make sure your transactions are accurate.

•Always total your charge slip before signing the credit card receipt.

•Never sign a blank charge slip.

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