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Protecting Your Plastic From High-Tech Criminals
Posted: June 28, 2013

While many people still like to use paper money and coins, more and more people are pulling out credit or debit cards to make purchases. As the popularity of these cards has grown, so has the number of criminals trying to steal valuable details, including the cardholder’s name and the card’s account number and expiration date, which are printed on the card itself as well as encoded in the magnetic stripe or a computer chip.
If you’re ever the victim or target of credit or debit card theft or fraud, catching it fast and reporting it to your card issuer are key to resolving the situation. Federal laws and industry practices protect consumers in these situations, there are important differences depending on the type of card.
In general, under the Truth in Lending Act, your cap for liability for unauthorized charges on a credit card is $50. However, under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, if your debit or ATM card is lost or stolen or you notice an unauthorized purchase or other transfer using your checking or savings account, your maximum liability is limited to $50 only if you notify your bank within 2 business days. If you wait more than 2 business days, your losses under the law could go up to $500, or even much more. With either card, though, industry practices may further limit your losses, so check with your card issuer. To learn more go to: www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnfall09/debit_vs_credit.html

Ways to Protect Your Cards and Money:

• Never give out your payment card numbers in response to an unsolicited e-mail, text message or phone call. An “urgent” e-mail or phone call appearing to be from a well-known organization is likely a scam attempting to trick you into divulging your card information.

• Take precautions at the checkout counter, ATM and gas pump. Be on the lookout for card reading devices that look suspicious, such as a plastic sleeve inside a card slot.

• Be alert when you give your card to an employee at a restaurant or retail establishment. If he or she swipes your card through two devices instead of one, the second device could be recording your account information to make a fraudulent card. Report that situation to a manager and your card issuer.

• Many card issuers have turned to the technology known as radio frequency identification (RFID). This uses wireless radio signals to identify people or objects from a distance. RFID cards are nearly impossible to breach because the chip in it creates an encrypted signal that is extremely difficult to hack or compromise. If you have questions about a payment card that is RFID-enabled, ask your bank about the precautions it takes to safeguard your information.

• Closely monitor your bank statements and credit card bills. Look at your account statements as soon as they arrive and report a discrepancy or anything suspicious. Don’t assume that a small unauthorized transaction isn’t worth reporting.

• Contact your institution if your bank statement or credit card bill doesn’t arrive when you normally expect it. This could be a sign that an identity thief has stolen your mail and/or account information to commit fraud.

• Periodically review your credit reports for warning signs of fraudulent activity. If a credit report shows a credit card, loan or lease you never signed up for, this could indicate you are a victim of ID theft. To request your free report, go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

Adapted from: Spring 2013 FDIC Consumer News http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnspr13/?source=govdelivery

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