Credit card identity theft fears loom
Posted by Robert Siciliano on September 3rd, 2009
Robert Siciliano is a NextAdvisor.com Expert Guest Blogger
A recent study found that, in the midst of the global financial crisis, American's primary fear is credit and debit card fraud. 68% of those surveyed are extremely or very concerned about the security of their credit or debit card data, and 66% are extremely or very concerned about identity theft.
Compare that to 58% who are extremely or very concerned about terrorism and war, and 41% who fear the possibility of a serious health epidemic.
Credit card fraud comes in two different flavors: account takeover and new account fraud. Account takeover occurs when an identity thief gains access to your credit or debit card number through criminal hacking, dumpster diving, ATM skimming , or perhaps when you hand it over to pay at a store or restaurant. Technically, account takeover is the most prevalent form of identity theft, though I’ve always viewed it as simple credit card fraud.
Federal laws limit cardholder liability to $50 in the case of credit card fraud, as long as the cardholder disputes the charge within 60 days. Debit card fraud victims must notify the bank within two days in order to be protected by this $50 limit. After that, the maximum liability jumps to $500. And if a victim doesn’t discover or report the fraud until after 60 days have passed, the liability could be the entire card balance, for a debit or credit card. Once your debit card is compromised, you might not find out until a check bounces or the card is declined. And once you do recover the funds, the thief can just start all over again, unless you cancel the account altogether.
Protecting yourself from account takeover is relatively easy. Simply pay attention to your statements every month and refute unauthorized charges immediately. I check my charges online once every two weeks. If I’m traveling extensively, especially out of the country, I let the credit card company know ahead of time, so they won’t shut down my card while I’m on the road.
Protecting yourself from new account fraud requires more effort. You can attempt to protect your own identity, by getting yourself a credit freeze , or setting up your own fraud alerts . There are pros and cons to each. Another good option is to invest in identity theft protection , because when all else fails, you’ll have someone watching your back.
Robert Siciliano is CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com , an identity theft expert, professional speaker, security analyst, published author and television news correspondent. Siciliano works with Fortune 1000 companies and startups as an advisor on product launches, branding, messaging, representation, SEO and media. Siciliano's thoughts and advice on all these matters appear often in both the televised and print news media including CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, FOX, Forbes and USA Today. He has 25 years of security training as a member of the American Society of Industrial Security. He is the author of two books, including The Safety Minute: Living on High Alert; How to take control of your personal security and prevent fraud . He's also partnered with Uni-Ball to help raise awareness about the growing threat of identity theft and to provide tips on how you can protect yourself.
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