Weekly AG Newspaper Columns
Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud
Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud
By Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas
Millions of credit card transactions take place every day. They are done in person, over the phone
and on the Internet. While many credit card companies have instituted safe guards to protect against
credit card fraud, the following are steps a consumer can take to protect themselves:
Only carry the credit cards you need. This will minimize the opportunity for fraud in case of theft.
In addition, do not keep your PIN numbers in your wallet or purse. It is also a good idea
to carry your credit cards separately from your wallet.
When using a credit card in person, never let it out of your possession. It is possible for a
dishonest clerk to swipe your credit card with a hand recorder and download your financial
information at a later date. Reputable businesses will have their credit card
machines near the cash register, in full view of the customer. You should also
shield your credit card and PIN numbers from others so that they aren't copied
or captured on a cellular telephone camera.
You should also look carefully at the credit card receipt. Is the amount
correct? Are there any blanks that can be filled in after you are gone? Destroy
any incorrect receipts and carefully draw a line though any blanks.
Do not give out your credit card number over the telephone unless you
initiated the call and know the company is reputable. Legitimate companies and
financial institutions never call you to ask for or verify a credit card number.
Many consumers have been scammed by telephone in this manner.
Do not e-mail your personal financial information. Thieves may send you an e-mail that
appears to be from a well known merchant, with the request
that you e-mail your financial information for "verification." No legitimate online
sales company will ask you to do this. This is known as "phishing", and is
a recent trend in Internet scams.
When shopping online, be sure that you are using a secure server. Check
the location at the top of your browser window. The Web page on the merchant's
site where you actually enter your personal information should begin with https://
rather than http://. The "s" indicates a secure server.
Keep a secure list of your account numbers and their expiration dates,
as well as the telephone numbers and addresses of the banks that issued your
credit cards. This will give you quick access to pertinent information needed
to report credit card theft.
Sign your credit cards as soon as you receive them. If you receive a credit
card application and do not plan to use it, shred it. It is also wise to shred
all receipts and carbon copies before throwing them away. Many criminals
literally dig through trash looking for personal financial information.
Be diligent about checking your credit card bill–treat it like a bank
statement. Save your sales receipts and compare them to your monthly
statement. Report any unauthorized or suspicious charges to the credit card
The Fair Credit Reporting Billing Act enables you to dispute charges to
your credit card in some circumstances and to withhold payment pending the
creditor's investigation. If the charges are found to be erroneous or fraudulent,
you generally are only held liable for the first $50 charged to your account.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
CREDIT CARD FRAUD
• Never throw away papers in the trash if they contain your credit card number; shred them
• Never write your credit card number where someone can observe you
• Never lend your credit card to anyone else
• Never respond to an e-mail or telephone call requesting your credit card number
Report credit card scams to:
Attorney General's Office
To get a copy of the Fair Credit Reporting Act:
Federal Trade Commission
For registration information on a business
operating in Texas:
Secretary of State's Office
Information on this and other topics is available on the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.