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Credit Card Security Precaution


Police officers would like to remind citizens that the fraudulent use of credit and/or debit cards is not limited to the loss or theft of the actual card.  Police Departments routinely investigate cases where credit and debit card numbers are fraudulently obtained and used.  A capable criminal only needs to know the card number to make numerous charges, including cash withdrawals, against someone’s account.


Be careful not to be fooled by someone wanting to verify credit card numbers in order to claim a prize.  One current scam involves con artists who call at random and inform the victim that if their VISA card begins with the number four, the victim wins a prize.  However, all VISA cards begin with the number four, and all MASTERCARDS begin with the number five.  The only prize the cardholder gets is the fraudulent use of their credit card.


Here are several crime prevention tips or recommendations to guard against the illegal use of credit cards.


·        Photocopy both the front and back of all credit/debit cards and keep the copies in a safe and secure location.  This will facilitate your cancellation of the card asap if it’s lost or stolen, which also may prevent any unauthorized use of the card.

·        Endorse all credit/debit cards as soon as they arrive.

·        Never leave cards unattended.

·        When writing a check, never allow the salesperson to write down the card number on the check.  If paying by credit or debit card, never let the salesperson write down driver’s license or social security numbers.

·        Avoid signing a blank receipt, whenever possible.  Draw a line through blank spaces above the total such as where the tip goes if paying cash for the tip.

·        Unless absolutely confident the company you are dealing with is a reputable one, never give someone the card number over the phone.

·        Notify the card companies or banks in advance of a change of address so no correspondence is missed from them such as a monthly statement.

·        Destroy unused credit card applications such as those received in the mail that state, “pre-approved.”  Consumers have the right to “Opt Out” of these mailings.  This prevents consumer credit reporting companies from using credit file information for pre-approved offers of credit or insurance.  If someone wants to “Opt Out,” contact 888-9-OPT-OUT (888-567-8688).

·        Open billing statements promptly and reconcile charge amounts each month, as commonly done with checking accounts.

·        When using a credit or debit card to make a purchase, maintain visual contact with the card whenever possible and make sure no extra imprints or swiping of the card is made.  There have been incidents documented where someone swipes the card through a secondary device to record card numbers for later fraudulent use.

·        Be careful when giving card information over the phone.  Don’t give it out over the phone unless you have initiated the call.  For example, if someone is told there has been a “computer problem” and the caller needs account information or card number to verify information, don’t give it.  Instead, hang up and call the company/bank--using phone numbers you have for them--and confirm that the information is needed.  Legitimate companies don’t call asking for a card number over the phone.

·        Never respond to e-mails requesting card numbers via e-mail.  Also, don’t respond to e-mails asking for someone to click on a website link to verify personal or card information.  These are called “phishing” scams.

·        Don’t write pin numbers on cards, or have it anywhere near them (e.g. purse or wallet).

·        If any charges are found that you do not recognize, report them promptly to the bank or credit card company.

·        Shred anything with card numbers on it.


If someone suspects that their credit or debit card has been stolen, their credit card company or bank may require them to report it to the police.  It may help the investigation if you can provide information as to when & where the card was fraudulently used.