Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
Creditcards.com reports Credit and debit card fraud is the No. 1 fear of Americans in the midst of the global financial crisis, according to a report by Unisys, an information technology company. Concern about fraud supersedes that of terrorism, computer and health viruses and personal safety. According to research 66 percent are extremely or very concerned by data breaches and their personal information compromised leading to credit card fraud.
Only 58 percent said they are extremely or very concerned about terrorism and war, and 41 percent say they feel the same about a serious health epidemic occurring.
Credit card fraud comes in two different flavors: account takeover and new account fraud. Account takeover occurs when the identity thief gains access to your credit or debit card number through criminal hacking, dumpster diving, ATM skimming, or perhaps you simply hand it over when paying at a store or restaurant. Technically, account takeover is the most prevalent form of identity theft. Iâ€™ve always viewed it as simple credit card fraud, rather than â€œidentity theftâ€ in its truest sense.
Federal laws limit cardholder liability to $50.00 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 maintain this $50.00 limit. After that, the maximum liability jumps to $500.00. And if a victim doesnâ€™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.
1. 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 Iâ€™m traveling extensively, especially out of the country, I let the credit card company know ahead of time, so they wonâ€™t shut down my card while Iâ€™m on the road.
2. 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.
3. Invest in Intelius Identity Protect. Because when all else fails youâ€™ll have someone watching your back.
Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing credit card and debit card fraud on CNBC