Alma J. Owen,
To Your Credit: Fact Sheet 6
Protecting Your Credit Information
Credit cards are a commonly used tool for most Americans. They are necessary to
book rental cars and hotel rooms and are more convenient than cash. They can be
safer than cash too, but only if you treat them carefully. Fraud is big business, and if
someone steals your credit card information, it can lead to a time-consuming, costly
fi nancial di sas ter for you. Most fraud happens within 48 hours of the card theft. Most
fraud happens because someone steals the information on the card, not the card itself.
With your card number and its expiration date, thieves can run up bills and ruin your
credit rating fast. Crooks can get the information they need from credit card receipts
they steal from the trash, from lost cards, by stealing your identity, or when you give
the card number over the phone to unknown persons or companies.
How can credit fraud hap pen?
To use your account, a thief needs either your
actual credit card or the card num ber and the ex-
piration date. Here are ways you can lose control
of this credit asset:
• Someone steals your purse or wallet.
• Someone uses your credit cards with out your
knowledge or permission.
• A fraudulent telemarketer calls you and asks
for information from your credit card.
• You receive a letter or postcard asking you to
claim a prize by calling a 900-number. When you
call, they ask you for your credit card number
and ex pi ra tion date to “verify” your identity.
• Someone goes through your garbage and
fi nds old billing statements, credit card receipts,
printed credit card access checks, or an offer for
a new, preapproved credit card.
• A thief steals outgoing or just-delivered mail
from your unprotected mailbox.
• A clerk where you used the card copies the
information and uses it else where or sells it.
Credit card precautions
• Limit your credit cards
There are several ways to keep your credit to
yourself and to be sure you have not already been