22 WAYS TO FOIL CREDIT CARD THIEVES
You probably won’t end up paying the bill, but a stolen credit card can still cost
you big in time and aggravation. Here's how to protect yourself online and off.
By Liz Pulliam Weston
In some ways, credit card fraud isn’t the problem it’s often made out to be.
VISA says fraud accounts for about 7 cents of every $100 spent on its credit cards, an
all-time low and about half the rate of 10 years ago. Add to that the fact that the major
credit card companies have “zero liability” policies, which means the vast majority of
consumers who are victims don’t wind up paying a dime out of their own pockets.
Why, then, should you worry?
Well, for one, credit card fraud is a hassle. You often need to have your account closed
and a new one opened, which can leave you without a card for a week or more. That’s
inconvenient, and it can mess up any automatic payments charged to that card.
That’s if all goes well. Sometimes card issuers balk at removing charges or closing a
Robert Allen of Simi Valley, Calif., fought with Capital One for seven months before the
credit card company finally removed a disputed charge from an Internet retailer. (The
retailer kept insisting it had sent the digital camera Allen ordered, but nothing ever
arrived.) Allen said Capital One also closed his account and issued him a new card,
which he worried might hurt him in other lenders’ eyes.
“That was my oldest account at seven years,” said Allen. Closing the account “makes
my credit history look younger than it is.”
Occasionally these disputes can escalate to the point where they show up as a late
payment, charge-off or collection on your credit report. That can really trash your credit
score, which is the three-digit number lenders use to help them gauge your credit-
worthiness. Banks and insurers check your credit.
So should you.
So, better safe than sorry. Fortunately there’s plenty you can do to reduce the odds of
becoming a victim.
22 WAYS TO FOIL