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Cardholders Encouraged to Fight Internet Fraud

By Faye Mergel
Published: Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Consumers can do little about stopping fraudsters from victimizing others, but there is one sure way they can stop this $1 trillion crime from growing—keeping their accounts secured.

Cardholders Encouraged to Fight Internet Fraud Industry specialists estimate that online credit card fraud is costing consumers and merchants $8 billion in the United States alone, with its total damage to the industry worldwide estimated to reach $1 trillion soon. The federal government has increased its security efforts, but cyberspace remains a menacing place for cardholders. While law enforcers are working hard to protect the money of consumers and reputation of merchants, experts say there is not much they can do unless individual cardholders do their part. This week, they enumerated ways consumers can keep themselves from becoming a victim of cyber crime.

First, consumers are advised to shop only at reputable websites. Experts note that secured websites begin with https://. They also advise online shoppers to look for a security padlock at the bottom of their browser bar since it signifies that a website is authenticated.
Secondly, consumers are advised not to click on links in spam mails—those electronic mails that come unsolicited. This method is termed by experts as phishing, which steals information by sending mails intended to make internet users panic.

Since internet users may sometimes click on links in spam mails accidentally, experts encourage them to keep their antivirus and personal firewall upgraded to prevent fraudsters from pinning out any malware.

Consumers are also advised not to give out any personal information even if the solicitation appears to come from their banks. Experts cautioned about giving card or bank account numbers since they can easily be used by scammers to make purchases under another person’s name.

Aside from tightening online security, specialists say consumers must be mindful of their bills as well to prevent unauthorized and fraudulent transactions. If they find any, experts advise them to report the transaction immediately to their bank or creditor.

Finally, specialists say consumers must check their credit report regularly so they can protect themselves against identity thieves who use other people’s name to open fraudulent accounts. Consumers are encouraged to do this at least once a year, since they are entitled to one free credit report every twelve months. Experts advise consumers to raise a red flag on their credit report if they find any fraudulent or suspicious account, accounts they do not remember opening.

Falling victim to ID theft is quite serious, but experts say it is best not to panic. All consumers have to do when confronted with this crime is to contact their card issuer and the three major credit report providers.

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