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Originally published on September 09, 2011 by Fox News this article by Lora Shinn is a simple but effective way of avoiding becoming another victim of credit card fraud.

Review these mistakes to avoid becoming a victim of  debit or credit card fraud.

1. Failing to Look for Skimmers

Thieves may attach skimming devices to the exterior  of an ATM or point-of-sale terminals requiring a PIN, or personal identification  number. It’s worth the few seconds it takes to glance before you swipe.

“Always take a look at the machine to see if there  (are) any visible traces of activity, such as glue or scuff marks or loose bits  around the PIN pad or the place where you insert your card,” says Manisha  Thakor, co-author of “On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal  Finance.” “Those are telltale signs that an attempt may have been made to attach  a skimmer.”

She says you should pay close attention when you’re  visiting an ATM in a low-traffic locale, where it’s easier for someone to attach  a device. When in doubt, use a different ATM.

2. Banking Online in a Cafe

You may have free Wi-Fi access at your favorite  coffee shop, but you might not want to use it to check the balance in your  savings account. If you’re using an open wireless network, it’s easier for  hackers to intercept online transactions, passwords and other private business.

 “It’s not the time to do financial business, your online banking or your  shopping,” says Marian Merritt, a Norton Internet safety advocate at Symantec,  a manufacturer of security software.

That goes for websites that start with HTTP and  HTTPS as well because you don’t know how securely the coffee shop, hotel or  other free Internet access point is set up. Hackers can set up “man in the  middle” attacks to grab your passwords, card number and other information while  you’re on the public network. So enjoy the latte and save checking your credit  card statement for later.

3. Responding to Phishing Messages

If you receive a text message on your phone from  your bank, and it asks you to log into your card account immediately — but you  didn’t contact the bank — raise your mental drawbridge. The same goes for a  message that arrives via Facebook, Twitter  or any other mode of communication.

“Any unsolicited phone call, email, text or social  media message could be a phishing attempt,” says Erik Mueller, vice president of  payment system integrity at MasterCard  Worldwide. “Be skeptical of these messages, especially if they request credit or  debit card data or personal information, or link to another website or Web  page.” With the right data, a phisher will quickly find a way to commit credit  card fraud.

If you think the message might be legitimate or you  have concerns about fraud, contact your issuer directly using the customer  service phone number on the back of your debit or credit card.

4. Ignoring Your Rights and Responsibilities

If you’ve lost your credit or debit card, suspect it  was stolen or think someone has lifted your number off the Internet, call your  card issuer immediately. Credit cards offer the greatest protection against  fraud. Most card issuers provide zero-liability fraud protection, and federal  law says once you report the loss or theft, you have no further responsibility  for unauthorized charges. Your maximum liability under federal law is $50 per  card.

With debit cards, your responsibilities and rights  change. While you may have zero-liability fraud protection on your debit card,  it may not apply to PIN-based transactions or ATM withdrawals. Federal law also  has some caveats when it comes to debit card fraud protection. If someone made  fraudulent purchases with the debit card data and you don’t report the theft  immediately, your liability could skyrocket, especially if you wait longer than  60 days to report it. In addition, if a thief uses your debit card to drain your  bank account, you’ll be short on cash while your bank investigates.

5. Not Using Free Fraud Protection

Additional fraud protection is available for free by  numerous card issuers and financial institutions, though most require a little  investigation or enrollment. For example, the Verified by Visa program sets up  Visa cardholders with an additional password they can use to shop at  participating online merchants. MasterCard SecureCode works similarly. It  requires the user to enter the correct PIN during checkout at a participating  online retailer.

Another option: Try one-time or “virtual” credit  card numbers, which are offered by some banks such as Citibank  and Bank of America. These numbers are used for only one purchase and then are  no longer usable — so you don’t have to worry they’ll be swiped and reused by a  fraudulent user.

You can also minimize debit and credit card fraud by  making use of free account alerts, which notify you when certain transactions or  changes occur, such as a transaction for more than a certain dollar amount or a  purchase made overseas.

Check your bank or card issuer’s site to find out  whether they participate in these programs and services.

The original Fox News post can be found here.

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