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Friday, July 25, 2014

Guard your good credit

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

For 25 years, I've been a credit card-carrying, bill-paying adult. I've balanced my checkbook, utilized online bill-paying and, as so many do, made hotel and flight reservations online. Apple Corp. has my credit card information so I can add songs to my ipod through its iTunes store. I pay restaurant bills with my credit card and purchase items for work with it.

And, for the first time in all those years, I was a victim of credit card fraud last week.

It's amazing how violated you feel when the bank lets you know that someone you don't know has your personal information and is using your good credit to line their own pockets.

In my case, a quick alert from the credit card company let me know that a couple of odd charges were made to an online jewelry and watch store in Oregon using my credit card information.

I don't buy jewelry or watches online.

Working with the credit card company, I closed out the account, they denied the charges, and hopefully all the damage is done.

But it was a wake up call to me about the dangers of our internet world and the importance of vigilance in guarding our personal information. It's important that we each take responsibility for ensuring that our private information stay private. I have to admit, however, that I will be even more watchful than usual over the next weeks and months to ensure that this type of thing doesn't happen again.

Here are some tips to help protect yourself from credit and charge card fraud from the Federal Trade Commission.

Do:

*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.

Don't:

*Lend your card(s) to anyone.
*Leave cards or receipts lying around.
*Sign a blank receipt. When you sign a receipt, draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
*Write your 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 is reputable. If you have questions about a company, check it out with your local consumer protection office or Better Business Bureau.

It's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your credit.

Paula Buenger
Publisher