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Avoiding Credit and Charge Card Fraud

Ways Credit Card Fraud can occur include:

taking your credit card account number off of discarded receipts or carbons .

Someone makes an extra imprint from your credit or charge card and then uses it to make purchases.

You respond to a mailing asking you to call a long distance number for a free trip or bargain-priced travel package. Or you are sent an email telling you that you won a free gift or trip. When you respond you are told you must join a travel club to claim you prize or discount. You are asked for your account number so you can be billed. Gotcha! Charges you didn't make are added to your bill, and you never get your trip.

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

You can prevent credit card fraud.

Guarding Against Fraud
Here are some tips to help protect yourself from credit and charge card fraud.


  • Sign your cards as soon as they arrive.
  • Carry your cards separately from your wallet, in a zippered compartment, a business card holder, or another small pouch.
  • Keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates, and the phone number and address of each company in a secure place.
  • Keep an eye on your card during the transaction, and get it back as quickly as possible.
  • Void incorrect receipts.
  • Destroy carbons.
  • Save receipts to compare with billing statements.
  • Open bills promptly and reconcile accounts monthly, just as you would your checking account.
  • Report any questionable charges promptly and in writing to the card issuer.
  • Notify card companies in advance of a change in address.


  • Lend your credit card(s) to anyone.
  • Leave credit cards or receipts lying around, rip up receipts.
  • Sign a blank receipt. When you sign a credit card receipt, draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
  • Write your charge card account number on a postcard or the outside of an envelope.
  • Give out your account number over the phone unless you're making the call to a company you know. If you have questions about a company, check it out with your Better Business Bureau.

How to Report Credit Card Losses and Fraud
If you lose your credit or charge cards or if it has been stolen, immediately call the issuer(s). Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to deal with such emergencies. By law, once you report the loss or theft, you have no further responsibility for unauthorized charges. In any event, your maximum liability under federal law is $50 per card.

If you Source: FTC, Federal Trade Commission