5 - 2008

Watch credit cards for fraud

This morning, I got a call from CitiBank letting me know they had spotted some strange activity on my business card. Apparently, someone charged $1-something for a New York newspaper, then charged $100 (to the Environmental Defense Fund — do-gooding fraudsters?) and then attempted to charge $500 to the EDF.

I appreciate that my thief wants to help the environment, and I’m sorry the EDF won’t get the money. But I’m glad it was caught in time — and on my business card, which sees little use — so it’s not too much of an ordeal for me to replace the card.

One of my colleagues is going through a similar situation, and she said her in-laws’ debit card was just ripped off. With economic times as they are, more people out there are getting more desperate, so be sure to ask yourself — and keep an eye on — what’s in your wallet.

  • Don’t carry too many cards with you. It’s easy to lose track of one and not know it.
  • Don’t use a debit card online. Online transactions are more vulnerable to security issues, and you have more exposure to debit card charges than to credit card charges.
  • Always be sure online transactions are secure (look for the little padlock security symbol at the bottom of your screen, or look for certification logos on the site).
  • Be extremely cautious giving your account number over the telephone — especially to someone who called you.

The Federal Trade Commission has a full list of what you can be held responsible for and how to protect yourself.

But remember, if you simply overcharge for the holidays, that IS your responsibility — so don’t rip yourself off by going crazy at the stores.

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