Consumer Protection
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How to Protect Yourself: Credit Card Fraud
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office


According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the cost of credit card fraud may be as high as $500 million a year. Consumer pay for the fraud through higher finance charges, annual fees and increased costs for law enforcement investigations and prosecutions. To protect yourself against credit card fraud, consider the following:

Protect your bills and credit cards
Unscrupulous scam artists often raid mailboxes or use “phishing” scams online to gather credit card account numbers and other financial information. If your cards or bills are late, contact your credit card company. Sign all credit cards as soon as they arrive. Keep a record of your credit card numbers in a secure place and include in that record the expiration date, phone number and address of the card issuer. Check your cards to ensure none are missing. Always get your credit card back promptly from salesclerks.

Guard your credit card number
Do not give your credit card number out over the phone or online unless you initiated the contact or you have verified the website you are on belongs to the company with which you believe you are dealing. Memorize your PIN number and do not keep it with your credit card.

Merchants cannot require you to show your credit card for identification when paying
by check

It is a violation of Florida law to require a consumer to produce a credit card number or expiration date before payment by check. However, a consumer can be required to show that they have a valid credit card. The merchant can note the type of card (Visa, Master Card, etc.) and the name of the issuing bank, but nothing else.

Safety tips when using your credit card
Destroy carbons and voided receipts immediately. Check your bill against receipts that have been kept in a secure place. If you are not using a credit card, destroy it immediately. When on a trip, carry the name of the issuer, account number and the toll-free number of the issuer in a secure place. Report stolen and lost cards immediately. Note the date, time and person to whom you reported that your card was lost or stolen.

Reporting losses and fraud
If you lose your credit cards or if you realize they've been stolen, immediately call the issuer(s). Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies. By law, once you report the loss or theft, you have no further responsibility for unauthorized charges. In any event, 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 purchase(s) in question.