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Credit-card fraud prevention and you

Visa Security

All credit and debit card users are potential victims of credit or debit card fraud. A thief does not have to steal your credit card or rifle through your trash to get account numbers. Any time you use your card your account number is exposed to everyone who is involved in the transaction, from the merchant to the merchant's bank or third party processor, if applicable. Although there is no foolproof way to avoid fraud entirely, here are a few tips that you can practice to help maximize your protection from credit or debit card fraud.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Never leave cards or receipts lying around
  • Destroy all carbons
  • Avoid signing blank receipts
  • Keep a record of your card numbers, their expiration dates, and the phone numbers and addresses of each creditor, and store in a secure place
  • Report any questionable charges to the card issuer promptly
  • Never give your account numbers over the phone or online, unless you are initiating the transaction and you know the company is reputable
  • Sign credit cards, in ink, as soon as they arrive
  • Save receipts to compare with your billing statements or better yet, compare them to your online history before your statement is even generated
  • Carry credit cards separate from your wallet
  • Photocopy or write down everything you keep in your wallet or purse. Give a copy to somebody you trust and can contact if necessary
  • Instruct everyone who is authorized to use your account to take the above precautions.

Nine Protections Every Cardholder Should Know

by Visa USA

If knowledge is power, consumers owe it to themselves to learn more about the many protections available to them when using Visa cards instead of cash or checks. These protections are most effective when you understand how they work. The following list is offered to remind cardholders of important benefits they receive when using a Visa card, features not afforded by payment with cash and checks.

  1. Protection from Counterfeiting. The new Visa card design makes card counterfeiting even more difficult by moving the well-known Visa dove hologram to the back, and integrating it with the magnetic stripe. Additionally, any attempt to erase the cardholder's signature will cause the word "VOID" to appear.
  2. Protection from Checkout Fees. Visa's rules shield consumers choosing to pay with plastic from checkout fees -- additional merchant charges on purchases made with payment cards. Checkout fees (also known as surcharges) are also outlawed in 10 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas). Cardholders encountering checkout fees should call the Visa Assistance Center at (800) VISA-911 to report the incident.
  3. Protection from Loss or Theft. If a card goes missing, cardholders should immediately call the Credit Union at (408) 543-5202 or toll free (866) 543-5202. After hours call the Visa Assistance Center at (800) VISA-911 for help. A Visa representative will work with them to notify the appropriate parties and replace their card. If necessary, cardholders can also call collect at (410) 581-9994, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  4. Protection from Unauthorized Charges. Visa's zero liability policy provides protection for every Visa card transaction processed over the Visa network, and gives cardholders the ultimate in payment security. Should a cardholder find charges on their statement that they did not authorize, Visa's zero liability policy ensures that they pay nothing -- not a cent -- for such transactions.
  5. Protection from Billing Errors or Fraud. If cardholders find a possible error on their billing statement, they have the right to file a dispute. To do this, cardholders should notify their card issuer of the dispute if it cannot first be resolved directly with the merchant. The card issuer will conduct an investigation of the purchase during which time the cardholder is not required to pay the disputed amount.
  6. Protection from Minimum Charges. Visa merchants are not permitted to establish minimum transaction amounts or charge cardholders a fee when they choose to use their Visa card, even on sale items. Cardholders encountering this problem should notify their card issuer to document and file their complaint. The card issuer's address will appear on their Visa statement and may also appear on the back of the card itself.
  7. Protection from Identity Theft. With identify theft becoming a growing concern for many consumers, Visa and the consumer group Call for Action, have established a free, confidential program to assist identify theft victims. Help is available by calling (toll-free) 866-ID-HOTLINE. Additionally, Visa has established Personal Identity Theft Coverage, which is an optional benefit for cardholders offered through participating Visa member financial institutions.
  8. Protection in Case of Rental Car Collisions or Theft. All Visa cardholders receive 24-hour Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver Coverage -- at no additional cost -- for damage due to collision or theft. This coverage protects cardholders up to the actual cash value of most rental vehicles when certain terms and conditions are met. In the cardholder's country of residence, this coverage is supplemental to, and in excess of, any valid and collectible insurance from any other source.
  9. Protection in Emergency Situations. Emergency cash disbursement and card replacement services are available for 24 hours a day, seven days a week for Visa Secured, Visa Gold, Visa Platinum, Visa Signature, Gold Visa check cards, Platinum Visa check cards and on select Classic Visa check cards. If the card is lost or stolen, a representative at the Visa Assistance Center (800-VISA-911 or call collect at 410-581-9994) will work with the cardholder to arrange a convenient location for delivery.
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