Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Credit Card Fraud

Today I blog about a serious subject, I have recently been effected by the increasing crime of Credit Card Fraud. Although I got off so easy compared to others, non the less it has taken its toll. It is so discouraging! If life is not hard enough,this crime just adds to the pile.. Luckily I watch my accounts, and keep up with what I spend.. I caught it early.. So now, its closing accounts, reopening and reissuing! This is a pain in the ass!!
So I have done some digging, and I will post some information here about helping yourself not to be a victim of CC fraud..
Hopefully this NEVER happens to any of you!! In my case the card number was being used in Saint Kitts & Nevis in the Caribbean!!
When you use a credit card, you can be vulnerable to fraud, whether you pay online, over the phone, or even in person at your neighborhood grocery store.
If you think you've been the victim of fraud or a scam, immediately follow these steps. The faster you contact the proper authorities, the more likely you are to minimize the damage a scammer can do to your identity, your credit, and your bank account.
Close any affected accounts

Contact the genuine company or organization if you believe you've given sensitive information to an unknown source masquerading as that real company or organization. If you contact the real company immediately, they might be able to lessen the damage to you and others. Then:

Speak with the security or fraud department about any fraudulently accessed or opened accounts at every bank or financial institution you deal with, including credit card companies, utilities, Internet service providers, and other organizations that have your personal information
Follow up with a letter and save a copy for yourself. When you open new accounts use strong passwords, not passwords such as your mother's maiden name, along with a new account number.

Change the passwords on all of your online accounts
When you change your passwords or open new accounts, use strong passwords.
What makes a strong password

To an attacker, a strong password should appear to be a random string of characters. The following criteria can help your passwords do so:
Make it lengthy. Each character that you add to your password increases the protection that it provides many times over. Your passwords should be 8 or more characters in length; 14 characters or longer is ideal.
Many systems also support use of the space bar in passwords, so you can create a phrase made of many words (a "pass phrase"). A pass phrase is often easier to remember than a simple password, as well as longer and harder to guess.
Combine letters, numbers, and symbols. The greater variety of characters that you have in your password, the harder it is to guess.

How to verify a site certificate

Always verify the security certificate issued to a site before submitting any personal information. Before you submit any personal information, ensure that you are indeed on the Web site you intend to be on.
In Internet Explorer, you can do this by checking the yellow lock icon on the status bar.
This symbol signifies that the Web site uses encryption to help protect any sensitive personal information—credit card number, Social Security number, payment details—that you enter. The lock only appears on sites that use an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection, which is typically used only on sites where you enter sensitive information.
Secure site lock icon. If the lock is closed, then the site uses encryption. Double-click the lock icon to display the security certificate for the site. This certificate is proof of the identity for the site.
When you check the certificate, the name following Issued to should match the site you think you are on. If the name differs, you may be on a spoofed site.
If you are not sure whether a certificate is legitimate, do not enter any personal information. Play it safe and leave the Web site. If the site does not require you to enter sensitive information, it probably won't display the lock icon.
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports
In the United States, contact these three credit bureaus
Equifax (800) 525-6285
Experian (888) 397-3742
TransUnion (800) 680-7289

Get a copy of your report (victims of ID theft can receive copies of their credit reports for free) and ask that no new credit be granted without your approval.

Make sure your account is flagged with a "fraud alert" tag and a "victim's statement," and insist that the alert remain active for the maximum of seven years.

Send these requests in writing and keep copies for yourself
Review the reports carefully. Look for things like inquiries you didn't initiate, accounts you didn't open, and unexplained debts.

Record and save everything
As you complete all these steps to clear up the wrongdoing, always make print copies of documents for yourself, including e-mail messages, written correspondence, and records of telephone calls, and file them somewhere safe.
For telephone or in-person conversations, follow up with dated confirmation letters to the organization, and save a copy for yourself. State in the letter what was covered in the conversation, and list any follow-up items that you or the representative have committed to in the conversation.