Credit card fraud: what you need to know

Losing your credit card or having it stolen can be scary, especially if you become the victim of credit card fraud. But did you know there are ways you can protect yourself?

The best thing to do is to avoid becoming a victim of fraud in the first place. As soon as you receive a new credit card, sign the back. Cancel and destroy any cards you no longer need. Don’t give personal information or your credit card account number over the phone or the Internet, unless you’re dealing with a company you know and trust. Keep track of your transactions and report any suspicious or inaccurate charges that appear on your monthly statement to your bank immediately. Also, be sure that you tell your credit card issuer right away if your card is lost or stolen.

These small steps can save you a lot of time, money and stress.

You should also be aware of how your card protects you from having to pay for items you did not purchase.

For credit cards issued by most financial institutions, the law states that the most you can be held liable for, in the case of fraud or illegal use of your credit card, is $50.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express have committed to Zero Liability. Zero Liability protects you from having to pay out of your own pocket if someone steals your card or uses it without your permission.

While Zero Liability is a handy safety net, there are some situations where you can still be held responsible for the charges on your card.

For example, Zero Liability will not cover you if your PIN is used fraudulently to access your money from a bank other than the bank that issued your credit card. In this case, you will be fully liable. Commercial business cards are not covered in this situation, either.

To be eligible for Zero Liability coverage, certain conditions apply. It is important that you be aware of all the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement and that you contact your credit card issuer.

To find out more about credit cards and how to choose the best credit card for your needs, consult the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) publication Credit Cards and You. FCAC is the federal government agency that regulates federal financial institutions. Visit FCAC’s Web site at www.fcac.gc.ca or call FCAC toll-free at: 1-866-462-3222.

CNM