4.3.11 Credit card fraud

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Rick's credit card was about to expire, and he was waiting to receive the reissued card in the mail. It seemed to be taking a long time to arrive. He meant to phone his card issuer to ask about the delay, but he kept forgetting. Then his credit card bill arrived, and it was full of purchases that Rick hadn't made: $75 for music downloads; $250 in new clothes; $165 for a restaurant tab! Rick had been the victim of credit card fraud.

Credit card fraud happens when someone steals your credit card, credit card information or personal identification number (PIN), and uses it without your permission to make purchases in stores, online or by telephone, or to take out a cash advance from an automated bank machine.

Rick sees unauthorized transactions on a credit card bill.

Tips to prevent credit card fraud

  • Don't leave personal information such as your name, address, date of birth and Social Insurance Number lying around at home, in your vehicle or at work.
  • Choose a PIN that is difficult to guess, and never write it down or give it to anyone.
  • In stores, keep your card in sight at all times to prevent "skimming" or "swiping"—when a thief passes your credit card through a device that reads and records the information from the magnetic stripe.
  • If you notice something suspicious about a credit card device at a store or automated bank machine, report it to the merchant's head office and to your credit card issuer.
  • If you receive a reissued or replacement credit card, destroy the old one as soon as the new one is activated.
  • If you don't receive a reissue or replacement by the time your card expires, contact your credit card issuer.
  • Don't give out credit card information over the phone, unless you have made the call yourself and know that the party you are dealing with is legitimate.
  • Don't give out credit card information by email. This is not secure.
  • Make sure the website you are using is secure before transmitting credit card information, and keep your computer firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware systems up to date.
  • Lock your mailbox if possible. Also, notify the credit card company when you are going away on a trip. That way they will monitor the use of your card for any suspicious activity while you are away.

See the video, Debit and credit card fraud, for more information on how to protect yourself.

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