The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Credit Card Fraud and Your Character's Terrible Very Bad No Good Day

This article was written from notes from Citizens Police Academy in my county.

Types of Credit Card Fraud that might have messed up you character's day:

  • ID Theft - uses someone's personal information like social security number and birth date to commit financial fraud with this the bad guy (or your heroine on the run trying to survive and stay off the grid) can open new credit and bank accounts to make unauthorized purchases. (Note victims of ID theft aren't held liable for losses but can you imagine all the problems this could cause your heroine while she's trying to clean up the chaos?)
  • Dumpster Diving - stealing credit card information from discarded receipts or account statements in the trash.
  • Skimming - a dishonest employee make illegal copies of depit cards using "skimmer" devices that captures credit card numbers and other account devices. The stolen credit information is used to make purchases by phone or Internet, or to make counterfeit cards.
  • Phishing - a financial crime that starts with a massive number of deceptive spam emails. They try to trick someone to give them account numbers and passwords.
  • Security Codes -  Credit card companies use security codes to help prevent unauthorized or fraudulent use by phone or online. These numbers help to ensure that you have a card in your hand and not just the copy of an account number. Merchants are prohibited from keeping these.

What Your Character Could Do to Stop This From Happening (but they didn't tsk tsk)

  • Shred documents that contain social security numbers, bank and credit card information and other sensitive financial information.
  • Your heroine should have a record of all her account numbers and company contact numbers in a secure place.
  • Your heroine should protect her PIN. She should never give their PIN to anyone including their BFF or their boyfriend. Things change, just sayin'.
  • Your heroine should check her statement carefully each month to catch it if anyone is testing the account.
  • Safeguard the mail
  • Safeguard Internet transactions

Once They've Fallen Victim- here's what they should do:

  • Report credit card fraud
  • She should know about the Fair Credit Billing Act
  • Dispute billing errors in writing -- she could call, but your heroine should follow up with a letter. 
  • Helpful people
    • Federal Trade Commission 
    • National Fraud Information Center
    • Her state's attorney general's office

Sorry for your character's woes. Hopefully things get cleared up quickly. Or not. This out of the blue issue could really twist your plot.

Happy writing,

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