Police offer some tips to avoid fraud

Credit Card fraud is a multi-million dollar business and statistics show by the end of fiscal year 2005 approximately 56.4 million credit cards were in circulation across the country, with a sales volume exceeding $190.6- billion (MasterCard and Visa).

Wellington OPP have issued a warning that payment card counterfeiters are now using the latest computer devices (embossers, encoders, and decod­ers often supported by computers) to read, modify, and implant magnetic stripe information on counterfeit payment cards.

Phony identification has been used to obtain govern­ment assistance, personal loans, unemployment insur­ance benefits and for other schemes, victimizing govern­ments, individuals, and corpor­ate bodies.

Statistics off the RCMP website shows total losses for payment card fraud for 2005 exceeding $280-million across Canada.

The county OPP is offering some tips to help prevent people from falling victim to a credit card scam:

Know your rights

The card owner is not responsible for any charges if he reports his card missing before someone else has used it, and the card carrier may not hold a card owner liable for more than $50 if it has been used, as long as the owner reported the problem promptly.

The credit card issuer may offer extra protection for free.

Most card issuers have voluntary policies to remove unauthorized charges com­plet­e­ly if consumers report them as soon as they discover them.  If unsure what the issuer’s policy is, ask.

Watch out for imposters.  Someone may claim to be connected with a credit card issu­er and ask to "verify" an account number to make sure the card holder is protected.  The real credit card issuer does not need that account number for verification because it already has it.

Protect against credit card fraud.  Do not leave a card lying around the home or office where others can see it, and do not lend it to anyone. If the card owner wants someone else to be authorized to use his account, make those arrange­ments through your card issuer. 

Only give a credit card number when actually making a purchase.

Check your card bills care­fully as soon as they arrive.  Follow the instructions on the bill for questioning or disputing charges. Do not send a note with the payment, since a separate department usually handles disputes. Make copies of any forms or letters that sent the credit card issuer about the dispute, and be sure to pay the rest of the bill on time. 

Be prepared in case your card is lost or stolen. Keep a file with the credit card issuer’s name and telephone number and the card account number.  Have that separate from a purse or wallet in case it is stolen, too.

Keep an eye on credit reports. Get a copy of personal credit reports by contacting www.transunion.ca or www.­equifax.ca.  Check those re­ports carefully against known purchases and report any dis­putes promptly.