The thought of someone getting your credit cards and charging thousands of dollars to them is alarming. There are companies that are trying to ease such fears by offering credit card protection programs. The Better Business Bureau, along with the Federal Trade Commission, warns that some offers are not worth the money.
Credit-card protection offers are popular with fraudulent promoters who are trying to exploit consumers’ uncertainty. In some cases, scare tactics and misleading information are used to sell protection that is not needed. Some scam artists even claim to be connected with your credit card issuer and ask you to verify your account number to make sure you are protected. Your credit card issuer does not need your account number; it already has it.
The BBB advises consumers to avoid doing business with telemarketers who claim that:
• You are liable for more than $50 in unauthorized charges on your credit card account.
• You need credit card loss protection because hackers can access your credit card number and charge thousands of dollars to your account.
• A computer bug could make it easy for thieves to place unauthorized charges on your credit card account.
• They are from the security department of your credit card company and want to activate the protection feature on your card, but first they need to verify your account number.
The best defense against these scams is to educate yourself and know your rights as a consumer. Your maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50. If you report the loss before your credit cards are used, the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized charges. If a thief uses your cards before you report them missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized charges is $50 per card. Also, if the loss involves your credit card number, but not the card itself, you have no liability for unauthorized use.
Although this advice may seem simple, thousands of local consumers are duped each year by credit card protection scam artists who make it their profession to rip you off.