Crime Prevention Tips


Credit Cards and ATM Cards


Do Not Give Out Your Credit Card Number Over the Phone

There are several ways an unauthorized user can gain access to your credit card number or ATM (Automated Teller Machine) number. A thief can steal your credit cards or a counterfeiter can find your account number from a credit card carbon. A counterfeiter can also learn your credit card number directly from you. For example, a telemarketer may call you offering a prize and requesting your credit card numbers to "verify your eligibility." This type of contest is merely a ploy to obtain the number. Legitimate contests do not require your credit card number. Always ask the telemarketer to send you notification in writing that you have won.

Watch Those Carbons

Counterfeiting is safer than using stolen cards. Since you haven't reported the card stolen, the number won't show up on any hot sheets. Also, the thief can make up supporting identification to go along with a stolen numb

What the Law Says

Federal Reserve regulations say that a credit card holder is liable for only $50 in unauthorized charges per account. Since, many people have more than one card, however, this can still result in significant losses. More importantly, it can take months to get unauthorized charges removed from a bill. With counterfeiting, the credit card company presumes you are guilty unless it is convinced that you are innocent.

ATM Cards

The regulations that protect you from fraudulent use of ATM cards and the new "debit" cards are note quite as generous. You are liable for only $50 in unauthorized charges if you report the loss of an ATM card within two business days of the day you learn of the theft. If you wait longer than two days but less than 60 days, you are liable for up to $500 in charges. If you wait longer than sixty days, you may be required to pay the full amount with-drawn by someone else.

Protect Yourself

  • Your best protection is to keep unauthorized people form handling your credit cards or learning your account number. Here are some tips to follow:
  • Read your monthly bill and bank statement carefully. By doing so you can tell as soon as possible if someone is making unauthorized charges. It is particularly important with ATM cards, because you may be liable for all charges if you do not report the loss quickly.
  • Watch every transaction. Make sure that the sales clerk does not make two slips with your card; a slip imprinted with your account number is like a blank check. Get your card immediately.
  • Never sign an incomplete receipt.
  • Treat your cards with the same care you treat cash.
  • Make a list of your cards, account numbers, and phone numbers of the card companies. Keep this in a safe place, separate from your cards, and update it regularly. If you purse or wallet is stolen, the sooner you notify all the banks and companies, the better.
  • Keep your account numbers confidential. Do not give them to telephone solicitors, do not write them down on envelopes even if there is a space for them, and do not let unauthorized persons learn them in any way.
  • Tear up the carbons. Carbons that separate sales receipts contain all the information on your card.
  • Never give the "Personal Identification Number" (PIN) for your ATM card to anyone.
  • Do not write the PIN number on the card. It's like giving the thief a blank, signed check.


Questions, Suggestions or Comments?





Updated February 2004

Officer Ken Jackson, ccps