Thursday, January 25, 2007
Don't Be a Victim: Credit card safety
Credit cards -- We cannot live without them. But lose them, and you're going to pay a hefty price. In tonight's Don't Be a Victim, Tom Haynes tells us how to protect ourselves.
Sgt. Michael Frevola: "Everybody has them. I don't know anybody that deals with them in some part of their life."
But, for thieves, a credit card is a means for fast cash and even stolen identity.
Sgt. Michael Frevola: "It's a nightmare. It's an absolute nightmare. I mean, personal experience -- I've had bad things happen to mine."
And, yes, even police sergeants can have their credit cards and identities stolen.
Sgt. Michael Frevola: "Well, I parked my car somewhere, and the valet parkers or somebody stole my device that I would purchase my gas with."
That device was hooked to his bank account, and it went downhill from there. But don't be a victim.
First, don't just sign your cards:
Sgt. Michael Frevola: "Listen, you can look at all my credit cards here -- I have three plus a debit card -- and, if you look at each one of them, it has my name, and it says, 'Check I.D.' right next to it."
Also, don't carry 20 cards with you. Just take what you need.
Next, keep track of what you are carrying.
Sgt. Michael Frevola: "Have an inventory, know what you have. Know what is in your wallet. OK, I know I have a Visa, a Master Card and an American Express Card."
Photocopy both the front and back of each card in your wallet. That way, you have all the information you need.
Second: Have contact numbers ready.
Sgt. Michael Frevola: "Put them in your glove box. Put them in your phone. Make sure they're readily available."
Either way, when you realize your cards are missing, you can make the call.
Sgt. Michael Frevola: "Call your credit card companies first, then call the police, obviously. File the police report in the jurisdiction where you lost it at."
And, finally, call the credit bureaus and ask them to flag your account.
Sgt. Michael Frevola: "These companies will work with you, but you have to let them know as quickly as possible."
If your social security card is stolen, call them as well.
Sgt. Frevola says he knows from experience that the more you do to prevent your cards from being stolen, the less headaches you'll have down the road.
Sgt. Michael Frevola: "It took months for me to get it straightened out."
Also keep in mind that when you pay that credit card bill, instead of writing the entire account number on your check, just write the last four numbers or pay on-line.