That piece of plastic resting securely in your wallet makes your day to day life so much easier. But what happens when that card is stolen? Credit card fraud can cause a great deal of damage to your finances and your credit, not to mention take months to rectify. So, what are the most prevalent types of credit card fraud, and how can you protect yourself from them?

1. Card theft – The most basic form of credit card fraud is theft of the actual card.  Thieves with this approach seek out individuals in a crowded area who are not paying attention. The easiest way to protect yourself from this is to remain alert when in a crowd and keep your pocket book close.

2. Phishing – One of the most popular forms of credit card fraud today is phishing. Internet scammers guide consumers to a valid looking website (typically a bank or credit card site) and ask for them to verify account and card information. To avoid this, type URLs yourself rather than using email links to access websites.

3. Phone Scams – Much like online phishing schemes, phone scammers will pretend to be from a valid company in order to gain access to your personal information. If you receive a call from a bank asking you to verify account information, hang up and call the bank back using a customer service number from your statements.

4. Credit Card Applications – Scammers don’t always need a current card to impose on you. Some card frauds occur when a scammer completes an application for a credit card in your name. To protect yourself from this identity theft, be sure to shred any documents with personal information before trashing them.

5. Online Purchases – Another form of fraud does not even require your card. If a scammer has your credit card number, they can make fraudulent card not present purchases. Again, protect yourself by keeping a close eye on your card, your account, and your statements.

Diligence is key in protecting yourself from credit card fraud.

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