Lee County Sheriff's Office warns of credit card fraud - WRBL

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Lee County Sheriff's Office warns of credit card fraud

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Credit card fraud and identity theft can be hard crimes to solve especially when they take place over the Internet. The Lee County Sheriff's department said these crimes normally spike as the holiday season approaches. We're on your side with the best ways to protect your financial information.

Captain Van Jackson at the Lee County Sheriff's department said so far this year there have been 145 reported cases of identity theft and 140 cases of credit card fraud. He said the number one thing you can do to protect yourself is to be aware of your surroundings.

As you head out to the store this holiday season to purchase gifts for friends and family, the Lee County Sheriff's department is urging you to be careful.

"Most people are out enjoying the festivities of the holiday season. Buying gifts, shopping, just various things that involve spending money. We see more financial crimes committed," said Captain Van Jackson.

He says you should treat credit cards like you would treat cash. Always keep a close eye on your card number and statements.

"If you had a $100 bill, you would not leave it just laying around, unprotected and you would be aware of who might have access to it," said Jackson.

He said the number of consumers can do to keep their financial information safe. Monitor your credit card accounts as often as possible so you will notice discrepancies immediately. You can put alerts on your credit or debit card and don't fax your personal information to anyone.

If you're looking to do your shopping online, be careful providing sensitive information to websites. Jackson said to make sure the site is legitimate and trustworthy before you put your credit card information online.

Jackson says they do see family members become victims of this crime by other family members so you should take precautions even at home.

The Lee County Sheriff's Department lists these tips for preventing credit card fraud.

1. Monitor Your Credit Card Account As Often As Possible
Early detection is a great way to protect yourself from these types of crimes because most of these offenders are attempting to do the most amount of damage before you are aware that you are even a victim of this crime. Make sure everything in your billing statement is correct. If you notice any charges that you didn't make, report it no matter how small it is. When it comes to your money, it pays to be diligent.

2. Monitor Your Credit Report As Often As Possible
This is another way to detect early any suspicious activity that might occur on your account and it is a great way to protect yourself from these types of crimes because most of these offenders are attempting to do the most amount of damage before you are aware that you are even a victim of this crime.

3. Shred Sensitive Documents
Shred all old credit cards, bills, statements and receipts because these documents can be used by credit card thieves to get your personal information and credit card number.

4. Set Up Fraud Alerts
Most credit card companies will allow you to set up transaction tracking alerts relating to when your card has been used, posted payments, due dates, etc. This information or alert can be email or text to use which could be set up on your cell phone for almost immediate notification of activity on your credit card. This is a great tool to help you discover immediately when your account has been accessed.

5. Don't Give Your Credit Card Number Over The Phone
Never give out your credit card number on the phone to callers. The reason for this is that you can never be sure if the caller is who they say they are. They may claim to be a bank employee and sound convincing on the phone, but they may be identity thieves. If you initiated the call, you may give your credit card number to an organization or business which you trust.

6. Don't Fax Your Credit Card Number
Never fax your credit card number since there is a high chance someone could copy it down. Since usually when you send a fax it can be there for a few hours before anyone sees it and picks it up, there is a high risk a credit card thief will see it and copy the information.

7. Don't Expose Your Credit Card Number
When you are standing in line at the supermarket's cashier, don't take out your credit card and leave it exposed for everyone to look at it and give credit card thieves the opportunity to copy down your credit card number or take a picture of it with their cell phone. Always shield your credit card by covering it with something or simply leaving it in your wallet until you have to pay. Don't expose your credit card longer than you absolutely have to.

8. Only Enter Your Credit Card Number On Web Sites You Trust
Nowadays it is very easy to get scammed online by sites that look quite reliable. Before you give your personal credit card information online, you should always have these safety tips in mind:
• Make sure that the particular website has a locked lock in the lower right corner of your internet browser.
• The website address should begin with https://. The "s" means it is an encrypted website and therefore that it will most likely be safe.
• Make sure to only shop from reputable sites.
• Having these safeguards won't guarantee that the site is not a scam site but they will help.

9. Report Your Credit Card Stolen/Missing Immediately
If you can't find your wallet and you suspect it has been stolen or it has been lost, don't wait until it is too late to report it. Immediately call your card issuer's 24-hour customer service and have them cancel the card. I recommend that you follow up your phone call with a letter so that there is proof you have informed them. Make sure to include your account number, when you noticed your card was missing, and the date you reported the loss. Then send the letter via registered mail.

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