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Experts: Monitoring even small charges can help fight credit card fraud

By Staff Writer
Published On: Oct 22 2012 05:21:30 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 22 2012 07:26:27 PM CDT

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

U.S. Department of Justice statistics show credit card theft affects 10-percent of Americans. But local experts said a little knowledge of how a thief works can help a credit card fraud victim to fight back.

Reporter Caleb James noticed some fraudulent charges on his credit card last week. Looking at his statement, he was able to pick out a pattern that probably saved his credit from major damage.

"Be aware of even the smallest amounts," said Scenic Falls Credit Union spokesman Jacob Beck.

Beck said sometimes credit card thieves get away with their crimes because people simply don't notice their card is being used.

"A lot of times a credit card company will catch it, but I find it's better if you catch it first," said Idaho Falls computer consultant Monte McCall.

McCall shops online for his business almost daily.

He said his card number is stolen up to four times a year. He said it can happen to anyone.

When a thief got ahold of James' credit card number, they charged $25 to the card. James didn't really notice it.

Then the thief turned right around and spent $216 dollars with his credit card. McCall said that is a pretty common strategy for a credit card thief. They'll start out spending about $20 on something not-so suspicious from a popular website like Amazon.com. Typically, a card owner won't notice.

That's when the thief turns around and spends big money.

'If it doesn't seem like something you've done, look for it," said Beck.

Beck said if you use your card online frequently, it's important to keep a close eye on your statements. Someone could be using your card regularly for small amounts without you noticing.  

Both Beck and McCall said online shoppers should never use a debit card online.

If a debit card is used fraudulently, the money comes directly out of a user's bank account.

There's a lot more room to contest charges if you're using credit.

The average credit card fraud victim is taken for about $400 before they realize something is wrong.

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