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Part IV: Protecting Your Credit Card and Bank Accounts

In the age of technology, it has become increasingly popular to use credit and debit cards for purchases. For many individuals, the days of writing checks have passed and upcoming generations are quickly learning to become accustomed to online banking practices. However, the pitfall of technology lies within the ever present threat to digital security.

In the event that someone is able to use your credit or debit card for unauthorized purchases, it is important to have specific guidelines on how your bank/credit card carrier handles such an incidence. It is even better to have all of this information and a plan of action prior to an incident so that you can act quickly to resolve the issue and get funds returned to your account.

Here are a few simple considerations:

1- Contact your local bank or credit card provider. In order to protect the chance of getting your funds returned to you in a timely fashion, you need to be aware of how much time you have to report an incident. Most banks and credit card carriers already have Fraud Departments in place so it may be beneficial to contact them directly. Also, consult your bank on their policies for identity theft reporting as the guidelines may vary between credit and debit cards.

2- Check your bank and credit card accounts at least once per week. This gives you a chance to review the activity and make sure no suspicious purchases have shown up.

3- Request an Annual Credit Report at least once per year. It is also important to review credit reports for your children, even if they are very young. (It has been reported that criminals have stolen children’s social security numbers to create fraudulent accounts). The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Here is the link to get started.

While there is no 100% guarantee on security of your accounts, taking these simple steps to stay informed can give you peace of mind.

Managing Partner Gregory D. Miller, CPA shared his personal experience with identity theft in a blog entry from May 2013.

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