12 ways to avoid credit card fraud these victims wish they knew beforehand

Credit card fraud is expected to reach $8.6 billion by the end of 2017. The Consumer Federal Protection Bureau (CFPB) allows everyday people to submit complaints on financial products, and this includes credit card fraud. Being the practical bunch we are at finder.com, we analyzed the complaints and found 12 takeaways to avoid credit card identity theft.

1. Keep your credit cards out of reach from children

When you leave your child home alone for a few hours, you might mention in passing to not burn the house down. But what happens when said child opens up multiple credit cards in your name? Someone was definitely grounded in that household. Your kids likely do not understand all of the intricacies of credit and could leave you having to foot a hefty bill.

What Happened: “My minor child used my credit card for over {$12000.00} of unauthorized charges within gaming apps through XXXX. When I initially reported the unauthorized charges, I didn’t even know it was my child that had done it ; XXXX said we were not responsible for the charges. They refunded some of the charges and then declined to remove any more stating that we are responsible for misconduct of the child.”

2. Don’t give out your information over the phone

If it’s too good to be true, then it likely is. This person learned a valuable lesson about giving information over the phone. Don’t do it! This one merits a palm to the face.

What Happened: “XXXX called me and represented themselves as working for the federal government. If I qualified for their program ( low income, high debt ) they could erase my credit card debt. So I gave them all my credit card information. They said the process would take three weeks and started by shifting the debt from one card to another. When I later checked what they had done an additional {$2600.00} had appeared among the transfers. I asked the bank that had received this fraudulent charge to delete it, they said they couldn’t accept it as fraud since I had given them the information.”
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3. Don’t click on credit related pop ups, or any for that matter

Internet Pop ups are deviously designed to download viruses and other malware onto your computer. If you value your privacy, turn on “Pop Up Blocker” in your browser.

What Happened: I was ordering airplane tickets when this popup stated if I applied for a credit card I would get {$100.00} off on my tickets. I had already picked out my dates, entered the names birthdates, seating and bag information. I was at the payment phase when the popup displayed. So I took advantage of the offer but when I completed the credit form it didn’t take me back to check my order when I was approved. It just checked me out and charged the card. I never got a card number or a phone number to call. When I saw my confirmation it changed the flight day to the day I bought the tickets. Allegiant terms of services said 24-hour notification or no refund. I could not call or reach anyone and we started getting notifications that the plane was ready to leave. I tried to cancel the return ticket and it never fully canceled and notified us to board the plane for a return. I still do not know the card number or who to call. XXXX does n’t have a phone number on their website. I sent an email with no reply. I think I now have a debt of {$700.00} for something I never ordered. I picked XX/XX/XXXX and it changed it at checkout to XX/XX/XXXX of the same day. I feel I was frauded because of their 24-hour cancellation policy. I can provide the PDF confirmation. But it only shows the last four digits.
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4. Extended family should not have access to your personal information

Do not trust anyone with your personal information, even family members can unknowingly (or purposely) cause credit card drama.

What Happened: “I was the victim of ID theft when a family member opened a fraud account in my name. I have tried to dispute this account with Discover card but they keep saying it is valid and it belongs to me. Of course it would look like its mine cause my Identity was stolen!!!”
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5. Do some background information on a prospective investment, especially if it involves a lot of money.

Research the company, make sure you are taking the minimum possible risk, assume it’s a scam.
This person was scammed out of thousands of dollars while the credit card company stood by unsympathetically.

What Happened: “My elderly father was a victim of fraud and financial manipulation by a timeshare company. He lost {$150000.00} by sending separate wires to XXXX believing he was selling his timeshare. He subsequently took a trip to XXXX and was told by the timeshare company that if he upgraded his timeshare for {$50000.00}, that he could sell it within three years for {>= $1,000,000}. He used credit cards for a down payment of {$24000.00}. Once this was discovered, we put a halt to the payment. The credit card companies are demanding payment. I have claimed fraud and financial manipulation of an XXXX person, which is against the law in our state, but it doesn’t seem to matter. The credit card company is supporting the fraud and manipulation. We don’t know where to go for help. There does not seem to be any resource that helps XXXX victims of fraud. ANY direction that you could point us to would be very helpful. As his son, I have my fathers POA and can act on his behalf.”
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6. Check your credit report frequently as a safeguard against identity theft.

Imagine applying for a checking account and finding out that your social security number is already in use. Your credit report is essentially a biography of your life. Use it to your advantage when you suspect identity theft.

What Happened: “I went to my local XXXX branch to open a checking account and was told they could not proceed with my request because my social security number was already in use by another customer. I went home and created a mySocialSecurity account online and verified there are no unidentifiable earnings attributed to my SS #, so no one is using my number for work purposes. I then ordered my free annual credit report and identified one, open Bank of America credit card account that does not belong to me with a historical high balance of {$5400.00}. XXXX referred me to the SSA but since this is not a work/earnings issue there is nothing for them to do. How do I get Bank of America to investigate on their end?”

7. Check how your credit card company is sending your bill.

Part of the responsibility that comes with owning a credit card is that you pay off your monthly balance before the due date. Some credit card companies have adapted to the paperless world by forgoing the monthly bill in the mail. If you haven’t received your bill in a few weeks, assume they have not notified you about the switch to paperless.

What Happened: “After 20 years of perfect credit with XXXX, they switched me to a paperless account without my permission, resulting in hundreds of dollars in late charges and fees ( and a dip in my XXXX score from XXXX to XXXX ).”
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8. Threaten to take your money elsewhere if your customer service rep gives you the run around

Customer service can leave you steaming. Recognize that you are not important to your credit company, your money is. Threatening to take your money to a competitor should grab your service rep’s attention.

What Happened:XXXX approved a fraudulent credit card in my name. A XXXX representative revealed to me that XXXX ” pushes through ‘ applications despite the fact incorrect information was used to illegally obtain a credit card in my name A XXXX representative was combative & hung up on me, the victim of XXXX illegally issuing a card to someone using some of my personal information.”

9. Have your facts straight before talking to the police

The credit card company definitely didn’t come through with flying colors in this case but the police were just baffling. It doesn’t take the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the victim didn’t willingly give their credit card to an unwanted house guest. Document any evidence that would help you in the event that go to court over damages.

What Happened: “Before I had an unwelcome guest in my home removed by police on XXXX/XXXX/15, he stole my XXXX credit card out of my wallet, without my knowledge. He proceeded to use it for 4 days and charged up over {$800.00} dollars. I did n’t know the card was gone until I received a call from XXXX asking about fraudulant charges. I said it was fraud and they told me to file a police report, which I did. I spoke to the detective twice and told him the situation, then I never heard back from him at all. I received no information unitl I got a bill from XXXX showing the fraudulant charges were added back onto my account. I called and their fraud investigator told me that the police determined that I gave the thief my card to use so I was liable for the charges. I had no opportunity to dispute the claim and ultimately had to pay for the charges so that my account would not be overdrawn and affect my credit score.”

10. Don’t take credit card advertisements at face value

This tip falls in line with conducting thorough research before choosing which credit card is right for you. Credit card companies have teams of lawyers who find convoluted loopholes and clauses all in the attempt to retain the least liability.

What Happened: “My card was stolen while I was hospitalized. I report the fraudulent use to XXXX. However, several of the charges were charged back to my account. XXXX advertises zero responsibility for fraudulent use but claims that because the chip in the card was used that I am responsible for the fraudulent charges. I have requested several times to the Fraud Department to credit my account, but requests have been ignored. My account is basically paid in full and should have zero balance. However, the fraudulent charges totaling {$460.00} is on my account, and I am being charged interest on fraudulent charges. In addition, my payment date and address was changed, and I questioned whether a duplicate card was mailed and/or a data breach at XXXX.”
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11. Keep a log of all abusive collection calls

Your first line of defense against an obtrusive collection agency is to log any and all interactions. Keep a memo of any foul or threatening language, late night calls, or frequency of calls.

What Happened: “I have a credit card with XXXX bank Simplicity card. On XX/XX/XXXX my mom lost her card which is the same number as mine, after she paid her XXXX center. Then after i went online and place a hold on my account so no charges could be put through, I find out there are XXXX in additional charges on the account. When i called XXXX bank they made me hold for 54 min, and continue to disconnect the call, and then lied to me and told me prior to that the charge went through on XX/XX/XXXX when i have proof it was charged on XX/XX/XXXX after the lock date on my chard. now i have an additional XXXX of charges on the card which they still keep avoiding on explaining what the charges are, and keep passing me around.”
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12. Freeze your credit and opt out of pre-approved credit card offerings for the time being

If your credit card company issues you a new credit card without you having applied for it, you are probably the victim of identity theft. Freeze your accounts immediately before inquiring to what has happened.

What Happened: ‘’XXXX issued a Amazon.com visa signature card without me applying for it after they sent me a letter that they had insufficient documentation for issuing that credit card, for which i have never applied.”
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Find a credit card that you’re least likely to complain about

Ultimately, life happens to the best of us. But when credit card fraud does strike we want our banks to handle it quickly and promptly — not have to submit a complaint to the CFPB before something happens. Find out which credit card issuers are least likely to receive a credit card fraud complaint before applying for your next card.

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