Guarding Against Fraud on Your Credit Cards
Q: I discovered fraudulent charges on my credit card. I've since had my card replaced but am very concerned because I received an advertisement brochure from the vendor of one of the fraudulent charges (a Christian bookstore nonetheless) meaning they have my mailing address. What steps should I take to be sure I am not a victim of identity theft?
A: First, you have to separate fraud from identity theft. They are really two different things. Fraudulent charges on your credit card is something that probably will happen to everyone at least once. They are easily removed. However, it is important to know the policy of how your credit card handles fraudulent charges.
The policy was you can remove the fraudulent charges anytime. There was no time limit. Now, those policies are changing to a 60-day time period. That means it is important to make sure once a month you check your statements and make sure everything is as it should be.
As far as identity theft goes, exercise the first line of defense. That is credit monitoring. Credit monitoring will alert you as to when an account is opened or something is changed on your credit report. Beyond that you can always exercise a credit freeze. That is a way to lock up your credit reports so no one can access them.
Unfortunately we are in a time when fraud is almost a certainty to happen. The most important thing is to stay on top of your accounts and manually guard them against unauthorized use.