Personal Injury Through Credit Card Fraud
When seven Florida Gators faced felony charges for credit card fraud in 2017, it shined a light on the perils associated with this crime. The players duplicitously obtained and used credit card numbers from across the country, and bought themselves trouble with the law. Meanwhile, questions still abound about how this crime occurs and how victims of fraud fare.
What is Credit Card Fraud?
When someone unauthorized used a debit or credit card to purchase goods or services or to obtain cash, it is a federal crime. It can occur in a number of ways:
- Cards are lost or stolen;
- Accounts might be taken over when someone uses your personal information to get access to your bank or Credit Card Company. Simply claiming a change of address could result in their getting a new card in your name being sent to a fraudster’s address;
- Skimming machines could copy your information and criminals could make counterfeit copies;
- Credit cards that are mailed to you may be stolen from your mailbox or garbage cans;
- Criminals don’t necessarily need to have your card in hand when they make purchases; simply by knowing the card number and security code or PIN, they can victimize you.
Protecting Yourself from Credit Card Fraud
The FBI lists a number of guidelines to help people avoid becoming victims to credit card fraud:
- When making online purchase, look for the padlock icon before entering credit card data. Although no guarantee, this is one indication that the site is secure;
- If you’re not sure about a site, do some research: is the business a P.O box or a physical address? Does the listed phone number connect to the business? Are there complaints with the Better Business Bureau?
- Be skeptical of special offers that solicit your business via email;
- Keep track of your credit card account numbers and purchases. Check your billing to make sure nothing is amiss, and contact the credit card company if anything fishy appears;
- Be cognizant of what goes into the trash, and diligently shred anything that contains personal information and/or card numbers, even if they are offers that you don’t accept;
- Never give personal information out that is solicited by a caller or email.
What to do if Unauthorized Purchases Occur
The minute you realize that someone has been using your card without your permission you need to jump to action:
- Contact the company to reduce your liability for unauthorized charges;
- Change online PIN numbers and passwords;
- Monitor credit card and banking activity, and consider putting a security alert on your credit report;
- Report the fraud in an official police report;
- If the damage involves multiple cards, report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission;
Consequences to Victims
Although your financial responsible for illegal charges is limited, victims will pay for the crime in other ways. Besides the obvious time and trouble related to credit card fraud, it might lead to headaches in areas of life beyond the actual fraud itself. You may be impacted in other ways:
- Job prospects may be harmed when potential employers access your credit history look poorly on you as an applicant;
- Insurance rates for your vehicle may rise, since companies link rates to credit scores.
If you find yourself suffering extreme consequences as a result of credit card fraud, contact the experienced legal team at the Law Offices of Robert W. Elton. The initial consultation is free.