Credit Card Fraud is becoming increasingly common. According to recent statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), in 2010 seven percent of U.S. households–or about 8.6 million households–had "at least one member age 12 or older who experienced one or more types of identity theft victimization." The NCVS defines identity theft as "the misuse or attempted misuse of an existing credit card or another existing account or the misuse of personal information to open a new account or for other fraudulent purposes."
The good news is that there are simple steps to take–and not take–so you can avoid becoming a victim yourself. Here are some Do's and Dont's:
• Sign the back of your credit cards and have your photo placed on them if possible. "Photo security" is often free of charge and is a great way to protect you from identity theft and fraudulent usage.
• Regularly check your credit card online statements to make sure that you recognize the charges. If you don't recognize the charges, call your credit card company immediately.
• Be smart about where you use your credit card. For example, try to avoid making online transactions in cafes, parks and other places with unsecured wireless connections. Even if the website you want to make a purchase from has a secure checkout page, your data could be stolen while in transit.
• Enter or input your credit card online unless you see the "secure website" icon on the website. According to the FBI's website, "Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data."
• Give your credit card account number over the phone unless you have initiated the phone call.
• Dispose of your credit cards without shredding them or cutting them up completely so that the account number is unrecognizable.
Being mindful of these tips can help you preserve your personal information and spare you the headache and hassle of having your credit card information stolen.