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How to Spot Credit Card Fraud

A stolen credit card can lead to a significant amount of frustration, irreparable credit damage and hefty fines. Just because your credit card is not physically stolen out of your wallet, does not mean your credit card information cannot be compromised and used for fraudulent activity, such as expensive, large-volume purchases made in stores or online.

Thieves can steal and use your credit information from e-mail scams, counterfeit credit cards and personal documents. Understanding and identifying the different types of credit card fraud can help you keep your credit card information safe and prevent a great deal of loss. Read on to learn more.

Recognize Phishing Scams:
Phishing e-mail scams are messages designed by thieves to look like e-mails sent from banks, financial institutions, big-name companies, social networking sites, or even a friend or colleague. These messages often include official-looking logos taken directly from the company’s website to appear legitimate, or they may include information about you or your friends. The e-mail will usually ask you for log-in information, passwords or other personal information to verify your account, and they often include links to illegitimate websites.

A sense of urgency is often relayed through the message, and the message will often threaten to close an account if you do not send your personal information. By responding to these e-mails, thieves can access your personal accounts and credit card information for fraudulent activity. If you receive a phishing e-mail scam, do not respond.

Identify Counterfeit Cards:
Counterfeiting is a type of credit card fraud that involves taking a real credit card and copying the information within the card’s magnetic strip. Credit card thieves use this information to create fake credit cards. Merchants who accept credit cards for business should be able to recognize and identify counterfeit credit cards in order to keep their business safe and avoid fines for accepting fraudulent cards.

Counterfeit cards often involve international credit cards, making them more difficult to recognize in the United States. There are certain special features on real credit cards that are hard to replicate, making them good markers for detecting fake cards. These features include standard specifications regarding color, style and tint of the card, as well as holograms and embossing.

Understand Identity Theft:
Identity theft is a type of credit card fraud that occurs when a thief gains access to your personal documents, such as your driver’s license, Social Security number or credit card numbers, and uses this information to open new accounts, set up bill payments and perform other fraudulent activity. Identity thieves gain sensitive information by going through trash for non-shredded documents, looking for personal information in your home, or performing a phishing scam to obtain important data.

This type of credit card fraud can be avoided by taking the proper precautions when handling personal information. Consumers should shred documents before throwing them away or keep them locked up, while credit card merchants should comply with PCI standards to keep customers’ credit card information safe.

Julie Henaghan writes for BluePay (http://www.bluepay.com), a full-service merchant account service provider that offers retail, restaurant and small business credit card processing. BluePay provides merchant processing solutions and small business merchant accounts. Learn more at bluepay.com.