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Essentials of Online payment Security and Fraud Prevention

As we all know that credit card frauds are on the rise and crooks are utilizing more advanced techniques to acquire credit card information. In these circumstances anyone can lose their private and credit card information to crooks. Individual due diligence is necessary to protect credit card information and below are few measures which can help to protect it.

– At least once a year (or preferably every 6 months) report each one of your cards missing, so that your credit card company would issue you a new card. This is because often crooks steal credit card info but they wait to collect many (at least a million) before they sell them and this process typically takes a year (according to FBI) so most of the times your credit card info may be compromised but you don’t know about it until the crook sells it to a buyer and then in a matter of 1-2 weeks you get hit by tons of purchases and before you know it you credit card is maxed and you are stuck with proving it wasn’t you.

– Sign up with www.LifeLock.com, instead of the many identity theft programs that your bank offers. This program costs about $80-$100 a year (similar in cost to what banks like Chase and WFB offer) but this program TRULY covers all the costs of when your identity is stolen and cards are maxed. They do by far MORE than the other programs that banks offer and they cover all the costs that you may incur (including replacing your PC that maybe infected with a virus).

– If anyone calls you (from Visa, MC, AmEx or any credit card company) and told you anything like your credit card has been used, stolen, etc, get their telephone number and tell them you will call them back before you say ANYTHING to them. And then call the 800 number on the back of your card and verify that the phone number they gave you is indeed a valid number. Do NOT give anything, specially the 3 digit off the back of your card to anyone who calls you.

– As always, do NOT enter your ATM card PIN into any email.

– Do NOT open any emails from anyone that you do NOT know. If you do, and there is a .pdf file is attached, make sure it makes sense that the sender has sent you this file otherwise do NOT open the .pdf file. Many viruses are embedded in .pdf files (Not pictures or txt files, just .pdf)

– If you do on-line banking (as we all do) do NOT do bill payment or if you do then once a day check the balance in your account. Also, if possible contact your bank and BAN any WIRE TRANSFERs from your account. Tons, tons of wire transfer fraud has happened during the past year or two and people have LOST THEIR MONEY, the banks have NO obligation to repay even if you can prove you didn’t do the transfer. They say that your computer was hacked and that is YOUR fault not theirs. Check your bank account balances DAILY as with wire transfer you have 24 hours (in most cases) to reverse it but if it is gone then your money is GONE and you may never be able to collect it back.

– NEVER give your laptop for repair or upgrades to anyone that you do NOT know really well. Once your laptop or computer is in the hands of a crook he can install spyware and other programs that will go into the core of your PC and nothing, as in NOT EVEN FORMATTING YOUR HARD DISK, can get rid of the virus or spyware. Your only option is to throw away your PC and buy a new one.

– When online, if you happen to go to a website that had many different items on it; such as “Sarah Palin’s info”, “Earthquake victims”, “Las Vegas Deals”, etc. DO NOT open any files or documents (don’t click on them). These websites are put together by very smart crooks who want to attract people so they have a variety of info posted but each article has a virus/spyware loaded in it and if you click on it the virus will be loaded into your PC and from that point on they can monitor your keyboard entries, even the screens you look at. Avoid any website that has an unusual or strange collection of info on them.

– Have one credit card with a low limit ($1000-$2000) only for use on internet purchases.

– Have another card with even a lower limit ($500) only for use in Gas stations. Gas stations have the highest rate of fraud because the pumps have Readers/Pin pads in them that are really old and do NOT have any security feature in them. So have a very low limit card only for use in Gas stations.

– Have one/more high limit cards that you only use when you purchase something that you SIGN for, and always check your statements at the end of the month.