Avoiding Credit Card Fraud While Abroad

Have you ever looked at your Credit Card bill before signing it when you're abroad? You should. Vendors sometimes print the complete series of numbers from your credit card on your credit card bill, so you better start looking.

My husband and I went out to dinner recently while on a trip to Buenos Aires. When the bill arrived, my husband reviewed the bill and payed with his AMEX card. When the waiter returned with the credit card bill, he discovered that his full 16 digit AMEX credit card number was printed on the receipt. Surprised, he crossed out all but the final four digits on the receipt. Unfortunately, this was not the exception. All of our restaurant bills in the following 36 hours were printed in exactly the same manner.

In case you don't know, thieves can quickly take card numbers and expiration dates from a printed receipt and with that, get an address and phone number from a phone book (if one is listed). With this information, Boom! your credit card can be scammed. Stolen numbers can be maxed in just a couple of hours purchasing Internet porn or electronics in just a couple hours or days, way before you can detect the damage in your monthly bill.

So what can you do to protect yourself? The Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Protection Department has a few useful recommendations for you:

- (this one is my recommendation) Always look at your bill before signing it. If the full
credit card numbers are visible, cross them out with your pen before signing your bill.
- Keep a close eye on your card during each transaction.
- Look at your statements each month and question even the smallest entry that looks suspect
by calling your credit card.
- Carry your Credit Cards separately from your wallet in a card case or enclosure.
- Sign your cards as soon as you receive them from the bank.

If you are a victim of fraud, first, report it to the police and get a police report; second, call your credit card fraud department to cancel the card and get a new credit card. By law, you will not be liable of any of the fraudulent charges, as long as you report them as soon as you detect them.

For more information on Credit Card Fraud Prevention or for help with a fraud incident, click on the following link or call 1-877-FTC-Help - Avoiding Credit and Charge Card Fraud


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