Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The office of Sheriff Leon Lott has offered some tips for both consumers and businesses when it comes to protecting yourself from credit card fraud.
Sheriff Lott said: "As your Sheriff it is my responsibility to improve the quality of life in Richland County and make sure that all citizens are cared for. One of the best ways that I know to do this is by providing you with information that will help you, help us, reduce your chances of becoming the victim of a crime. "
Consumer Credit Card Fraud Prevention Tips:
- Keep an eye on your credit card every time you use it, and make sure you get it back as quickly as possible. Try not to let your credit card out of your sight whenever possible.
- Be very careful of who you give your credit card. Don't give out your account number over the phone unless you initiate the call and you know the company is reputable. Never give your credit card info out when you receive a phone call. (For example, if you're told there has been a 'computer problem' and the caller needs you to verify information.) Legitimate companies don't call you to ask for a credit card number over the phone.
- Never respond to emails that request you provide your credit card info via email -- and don't ever respond to emails that ask you to go to a website to verify personal (and credit card) information. These are called 'phishing' scams.
- Never provide your credit card information on a website that is not a secure site.
- Sign your credit cards as soon as you receive them. Many cops write "check ID" on the back of their cards.
- Shred all credit card applications you receive.
- Don't write your PIN number on your credit card -- or have it anywhere near your credit card.
- Never leave your credit cards or receipts lying around.
- Shield your credit card number so that others around you can't copy it or capture it on a cell phone or surveillance cameras.
- Keep a list in a secure place with all of your account numbers and expiration dates, as well as the phone number and address of each bank that has issued you a credit card. Keep this list updated.
- Only carry around credit cards that you absolutely need. Don't carry around extra credit cards that you rarely use.
- Open credit card bills promptly and make sure there are no bogus charges. Treat your credit card bill like your checking account -- reconcile it monthly. Save your receipts so you can compare them with your monthly bills.
- If you find any charges that you don't have a receipt for -- or that you don't recognize -- report these charges promptly (and in writing) to the credit card issuer.
- Always void and destroy incorrect receipts.
- Shred anything with your credit card number written on it.
- Never sign a blank credit card receipt. Carefully draw a line through blank portions of the receipt.
- Never write your credit card account number in a public place (such as on a postcard or so that it shows through the envelope payment window).
- Ideally, it's a good idea to carry your credit cards separately from your wallet.
- Never lend a credit card to anyone else.
- If you move, notify your credit card issuers in advance of your change of address.
Steps To Minimize Credit Card Fraud For Businesses:
- Ask for picture identification with every purchase. For online/over the telephone orders; take a few extra steps to validate each order. Don't accept orders unless complete information is provided - require address verification for credit card orders.
- Be wary of orders with different "bill to" and "ship to" addresses -- require anyone who uses a different addresses to send a fax with their signature and credit card number authorizing the transaction.
- Be careful with orders that come from free email services -- there is a much higher incidence of fraud from these services. Many businesses won't even accept orders that come through free email accounts anymore. It's easy for a scammer to open a free, anonymous email account in another person's name and then send you, the business, an order using the fake email account and a fraudulent credit card number.
- Be careful of orders that are larger than your typical order amount, and orders with next day delivery. Crooks don't care what it costs, since they aren't planning on paying for it anyway.
- Pay extra attention to international orders and validate the order before you ship your product to a different country.
- If you're suspicious, pick up the phone and call the customer to confirm the order.
- Consider using software or services that can help you fight credit card fraud online.
- If you the business are scammed by a credit card thief, contact your merchant processor immediately and inform them of the situation.