Posts Tagged ‘Credit card fraud’

Using debit cards can be dangerous

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Reports have surfaced in recent days about a solider who has been protesting outside his local Bank of America branch with a sign that reads, “A solider that puts America first should have a bank that puts the solider first.”

While the solider had two weeks off in Afghanistan in 2010, he went to Athens, Greece and had a few drinks at a nightclub, which he paid for using his Bank of America debit card. When he returned to base later, he found a total of $25,243.71 had been removed from his account. All of the money had been deducted by someone at the nightclub where he’d used his card to pay for his drinks.

If a consumer uses his credit card in a nightclub, or anywhere else for that matter, and the information is stolen and used fraudulently, the disputed charges are frozen and the consumer can delay payment until the bank or credit card issuer completes the investigation.

If, however, you have used a debit card, your money is gone until the investigation is completed. Your bank may return the money, but until they do, you’ll just have to do without.

So with this kind of risk, why do some people continue to use debit cards? It’s because there are those out there who can’t get credit cards, or who don’t wish to obtain and use credit cards because they can’t control their own spending habits.

Whatever the reason, be aware of the dangers of using a debit card. Learn what your bank’s policies are regarding identity theft and fraudulent withdrawals, and most importantly, if you do use your debit card, don’t keep $25,000 in your account.

Breach has many consumers on edge

Monday, April 9th, 2012

A recent data breach at Global Payments, which could affect as many as 1.5 million MasterCard and Visa card users, has many consumers on edge about protecting their personal information.

But there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your information.

First of all, be extra cautious and keep your eyes open. Read about the latest identity theft scams, and watch out for any signs that your information may have been breached.

Next, you should be sure to always check your bank and credit card statements carefully. Watch out for unfamiliar charges that might appear, even it is only for $1. Sometimes a thief will test the waters by seeing if he can get away with charging a small amount, before he tries to go for the gold.

If you spot anything out of order, contact your bank or credit card issuer at once. You should also be aware of your billing cycle. If you don’t receive your statement on time, it could be a red flag that something is wrong, and you should contact the bank or card issuer immediately.

Make sure your update your computer with the latest in security software, as well as your mobile devices. And then be sure to update the software. You should also update your Internet browser. Older browsers can have security weaknesses.

Last of all, monitor your credit report. Check for any unusual or fraudulent activity, and report it at once to both the credit bureau and the corresponding creditor.

Watch out for skimmers at the pump

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

We’re well into spring and summer is just around the corner. And summer means road trips. Road trips mean more time at the gas pump.

But high gas prices are predicted nationwide this summer. Prices are expected to go as high as nearly $5 per gallon in some areas.

Identity thieves use a technique called skimming at gas pumps, which involves placing a device over the card reader which looks like part of the pump. When you insert your card, the skimmer reads the information on your card, and records it so the thief can later retrieve the skimmer and download the information. He can then use your information to spend to his heart’s content.

Smarter thieves don’t even have to come back to pick up the device. Smarter thieves are using wireless laptops, smartphones or Bluetooth to download the information from nearby – they don’t even have to get out of their cars.

The sad thing is that most people don’t know they’ve been victimized by these thieves until they get their bills and see the fraudulent charges. All too often, by this time the thief has made off with a lot of money.

If you are concerned about falling victim to skimming at gas pumps, the best way to avoid it is to simply pay inside. You can use your credit or debit card, and you can watch the clerk scan your card, or scan it yourself.

If you continue to pay at the pump, use your credit card, or use your debit card but choose the credit option, so you don’t have to input your PIN. Check your bank or credit card statements often to be sure nothing is amiss.

What is identity theft?

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

ID theft victims pay average of more than $1,800 for damages

Monday, January 17th, 2011

According to Bureau of Justice statistics, 5 percent of U.S. citizens over the age of 16 fell victim to identity theft within a two-year period. More than half of those affected were victims of credit card fraud.

Nationwide, one out of four of those victims faced out-of-pocket expenses of, on average, $1,870. Total losses overall exceeded $17 billion dollars during that same two-year period.

Identity theft victims are being scammed in a number of ways, including the average, like stolen mail or dumpster diving, or advanced scams like e-mail phishing and hacking.

The BOJ study also showed that people ages 65 and older are least likely to be victimized, while those aged 35 and under are much more likely to be targeted, as well as those with incomes of at least $75,000.

How can you protect yourself? Rent a post office box or buy a locking mailbox. Shred anything that bears your personal information before you dispose of it. Protect your home computer with anti-virus and firewall software. Don’t open unsolicited e-mails or click on the links they contain.

You should also pay close attention to bank and credit card statements. If you see any questionable or fraudulent charges, report them immediately.

But the best thing you can do, since you can’t monitor your information 24/7, is to find someone who can. And that someone is LifeLock.

LifeLock is the only proactive identity theft protection service – LifeLock will monitor for any credit or non-credit related threats to your information, and if any such threats are found, you’ll be notified immediately. This will stop identity theft before any damage can be done.

So arm yourself against identity theft – do the things you should do, and sign up with LifeLock. It’s just the one-two punch you need.

Play it safe when you get unsolicited e-mail

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

In the wake of scams on Craigslist and eBay in which people send in money for products which they never receive and then try in vain to get in touch with the person who posted the ad or product, a new scam has emerged.

This new scam targets those who have been victimized in this way by sending e-mails offering a reverse e-mail lookup. The ads read: “Tired of receiving e-mails from an unknown e-mail address? Are they threatening in tone? Has someone on Craigslist or EBay taken your hard-earned money and quit responding to your e-mails? Are you ready to find out who they are? You can find out in just a couple of minutes.”

The ad is always accompanied by a link, which the recipient is invited to click on in order to conduct a reverse e-mail lookup. Most offer the lookup at a modest price, but there are a few that claim to be free as well.

The free ones are the ones to watch out for. While they may claim to be free, you’ll find that at some point during the transaction, you’ll be asked to pay for the service.

One of the biggest problems with these sites is that very often, there is no guarantee that you’ll get all of the information you’re looking for. Some of the information that is typically given is the full name of the owner of the e-mail address, current address, marital status, telephone number and criminal background records. Most of the time, only a portion of the information is there, and you’ll be asked to pay in order to get the rest of the details.

Scammers also use these types of sites in order to get consumers to enter their own personal information. You’ll be asked to input your own information, including credit card numbers, in order to proceed with the transaction. If it’s a scam site, you’ll get no information about the owner of the e-mail…instead, you’ll become a victim of identity theft.

If you decide to use a reverse lookup service, be sure you use one that is secure and that you are comfortable with. Look for “https” in the URL, instead of just “http.” A legitimate company should also have a money back guarantee, so that if you’re not satisfied with the information you receive, you can get your money back.

The safest way to handle e-mails that are unsolicited is to delete them and report them to the Federal Trade Commission. Copy the URL prior to deletion and send it via e-mail to the FTC, but don’t open the e-mail or click on any links contained within it.

Better safe than sorry.

After the gifts, be sure to unwrap your credit card and bank statements

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

After the presents have been unwrapped and the less-than-desirable gifts have been returned, be sure to comb through your credit card and bank statements. You could uncover a few purchases you never actually made.

Consumers should be looking for transactions that are theirs and making sure that receipts match up following the holiday rush and last minute shopping. If you do find something that’s unusual or out of place, report it immediately. Victims of identity theft typically have 60 days to file a fraud claim with their credit card company or bank. Often times, by the time you receive your statement, it’s already 10 days old, so it’s important to act quickly.

To avoid credit card fraud, be sure to carry your cards separately from your wallet, just in case your wallet is stolen. Keep a record of the account numbers, expiration dates and the phone number and address of each company in a secure place. When making a purchase, keep an eye on your card and get it back as soon as possible.

Be sure to void incorrect receipts, and destroy carbons. Save receipts to compare with billing statements. Open bills promptly and reconcile accounts monthly, just as you would your checking account.

Never lend your cards to anyone, and don’t leave cards or receipts lying around. Don’t ever sign a blank receipt, and when you sign one, make sure to draw a line through the blank space above the total. You should never write your account number on the outside of an envelope, and never give your account number out over the telephone unless you initiated the call or are sure of the person at the other end.

Remember that once you report the loss or theft of your card, you have no further responsibility for unauthorized charges. Your maximum liability under federal law is $50 per card. If you suspect fraud, you may be asked to sign a statement under oath that you did not make the purchases in question.

You should also report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. You can do so by going online at, or by calling toll free, 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Tallahassee restaurant data breach totals more than $200,000

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Patrons at a restaurant in Tallahassee, Fla., both local and those passing through, have become victims of credit card fraud.

The computer system at Julie’s Place, a familiar dining spot for many years in Tallahassee, was hacked from outside the system and credit card information from restaurant patrons was re-routed to an unknown person over the Internet. The information was being used around the country to purchase goods.

Restaurant management is working with security software personnel to find the breach and stop it, and new security software has been installed to prevent this type of breach from re-occurring.

Local banks have issued new credit cards to customers who may have been compromised, The theft has resulted in the loss of more than $200,000.

More than 100 new cases of credit card fraud have been reported in the Tallahassee area within the past month.

Restaurant owners can combat data breaches by using a point of sale vendor with PCI-compliant hardware and software. Security should be maintained by limiting wireless access to the office computer in the restaurant, and up-to-date anti-virus and spyware software should be installed. All staff who have access to the computers should be familiar with the latest security updates.

The investigation is ongoing.

While preventing this type of breach isn’t something the average Joe can do, you can protect your personal information by regularly checking your credit card statements. Look for charges that are bogus, and contact your credit card issuer immediately to notify the issuer of the fraudulent charges. Close the credit card and ask for a new one to be issued. You should also report any fraudulent charges to the police and obtain a copy of the police report for your records.

To take a proactive stance against credit card fraud, call LifeLock today. LifeLock monitors for both credit and non-credit related threats to your personal information, and notifies you the moment any such threat is located.

Receive 30 days free and get a 10 percent discount on enrollment with the LifeLock Promo Code “Defense.”