Back to school brings out the credit card warnings

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Back-to-school shopping is in full swing. Pushing, shoving, impatient children and lines at the checkout counter are part of the annual trips.

Along with that comes an increased use of credit/debit cards.

BBB warns shoppers that credit and charge card fraud costs cardholders and issuers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. While theft is the most obvious form of fraud, it can occur in other ways. For example, someone may use your card number without your knowledge.

Here are some examples:

A thief goes through the trash to find discarded receipts or carbons, and then uses your account numbers illegally.

or

A dishonest clerk makes an extra imprint from your credit or charge card and uses it to make personal charges.

BBB says a new tactic is how you handle your credit card while in the checkout line. Because more and more cellular phones and smartphones have camera abilities, holding your credit card in plain sight, or laying it atop your purchases on the counter can give a fraudster a clear target. Unknowing customers can have an image taken without ever knowing it was done.

Other tips to help safeguard your accounts:

  • Review receipts at stores before you sign them. Make sure the amounts jive with what you are buying.
  • Keep copies of ATM and sales receipts for your records and compare them with your monthly statements. Call the credit card company if you find a discrepancy. If fraud is involved, consider filing a police report.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when using your card. Could someone be looking over your shoulder to see your account number or the security code on the back?
  • Don’t leave cards unattended or in plain sight. Watch to see how the store or restaurant handles the card, and put it away immediately when you get it back.
  • If you are traveling, especially overseas, tell your card issuer where you will be and for how long.
  • Report missing cards immediately to the issuer.
  • Consider canceling inactive accounts.
  • Shred outdated but sensitive documents in a home shredder or bring up to three boxes or bags of documents for free shredding on Oct. 20 at CWI in Nampa.
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