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How to be safe from credit card fraud | April 06, 2009 14:02 IST

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Sameer (name changed) is a businessman who has always been prudent with his money. Whenever he used his credit card, he ensured that he would pay his dues back immediately.

He also made sure that he never used his credit card for expensive purchases, using cash instead. Imagine his unpleasant surprise, when he got a credit card bill showing that he had used up his entire credit limit.

On checking his statement, he saw purchases that he had never made. He went through hell trying to making payments over those purchases. Apparently, Sameer was the victim of credit card fraud.

Credit card frauds are on the rise these days. The credit card number, the Card Verification Value (CVV) or the Card Security Code (CSC), date of birth, credit card limit, residential address (stored on your card's magnetic tape) is all that is needed for someone to misuse your credit card.

Being vigilant while using your credit card is the only way of preventing fraud. Here are some tips.

Card Verification Value (CVV) or the Card Security Code (CSC)

The CSC or CVV number is a security feature for credit or debit card transactions, giving increased protection against credit card fraud. It is not embossed like the card number, and is always a group of numbers printed on the back signature panel of the card.

This provides a level of protection to the bank/card holder, in that a corrupt merchant cannot simply capture the magnetic stripe details of a card and use them later for 'card not present' purchases over the phone, mail order or Internet.

Whenever you use your card, always ensure that the transaction is completed in front of you and that no details are written down by the merchant. Do not provide photocopies of both sides of the credit card to anyone.

The card verification value (CVV) which is required for online transactions is printed on the reverse of the card. Anyone can use the card for online purchases if the information is available with them.

Using cards online

When using your credit cards for making purchases online:

  • Ensure that Web site is a secure site. This can be done by checking whether the site is secured by a reputable net authentication agency like VeriSign.
  • Do not click on links in e-mail seeking details of your account; they could be phishing e-mails from fraudsters. Most reputed companies will ask you to visit their Web site directly.
  • Do not give out your credit card details on unknown or suspicious Web sites.

Stolen card and suspicious transactions

The first and foremost thing to do, after you have confirmed that you have lost your wallet or card or have seen suspicious transactions on your credit card statement, is to call up the bank's 24-hour call centre and deactivate the card or inform the customer service representative about the suspicious transactions.

The representative will help you file a complaint in regard to this. In case of lost cards, check if any transactions have been made on the card and if there are any; inform the bank about the ones that are not yours.

This has to be done within a particular number of days which varies between 30 and 60 days according to different banks.

Some general tips

  • On receipt of a new card ensure that it is in sealed condition and that the seal is not tampered with.
  • Sign on the back of your new card as soon as you receive it.
  • Monitor your account regularly either on the Internet or from call centers. Also subscribe to e-mail and mobile alerts to keep track of card usage.
  • Memorize your card's PIN number.
  • Destroy and dispose all documents that mention the card number, such as copies of receipts, airline tickets, travel itineraries, etc.
  • Personal account information should never be shared with anyone unless payment for the purchase is being done from that account.

Another important thing is keeping any useful information such as card number, expiry date, CVV number, and pin number, etc of your cards handy.

However, that does not mean that you keep the information in places where it is easily accessible. Protect your card information as you would protect your money.

Finally, always stay at least 40 per cent below your credit limit and review your account information either online or through the credit card company's call center frequently. This will help you identify any suspicious transactions immediately.

Credit cards, though an easy way to have access to money without carrying around a lot of cash can become a big liability if not used prudently and carefully. Ensure that you use the card responsibly.

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