By Rachel Newman
Recently, a long and intimidating article crossed my desk from an investment group. It looked like a page out of a text book from a college economics class in which I would have gotten a C. My first reaction? Naturally, my mind went to burying it beneath a large pile of papers that I had no hope of reading. However, as fate would have it, I decided to read it.
It was an article about credit card theft, but it wasn’t your usual article about checking bank accounts regularly and knowing your credit score (even though both are important!). Instead, the article espoused the benefits of knowing how a credit card thief operates in order to bust them. And since, according to Banc Investment Group, counterfeit, cloned, alerted and forged cards are up 12% since last year, it seems like we should all take every step to thwart these thieves before they hurt us or someone we love.
Of all of the articles I read, boy, am I glad I read this, so that I now have the good fortune of sharing it with you. Want to catch a credit card crook? So that you know what to look for, here are a few of the most common ways they screw up:
Not on the straight and narrow. One of the first things you can look for if you suspect a credit card thief is the symmetry of the numbers on the credit card. When a card is counterfeited, the crook usually uses an embossing machine that can only imprint one number at a time. As such, the numbers are often skewed or warped.
So unattractive. A red flag in credit card theft is the magnetic stripping. Thieves are lazy, cheap, inexperienced or a combination of all three, and they often don’t coordinate the magnetic strip on the back of the card with the numbers on the front. To keep you from finding out, often they will destroy the magnetic strip so that you have to manually enter the number. Use caution whenever you have to manually enter a credit card number.
Matchmaker, matchmaker… You may not realize, but each type of credit card has a corresponding number that the company uses in all of their cards. Check your wallet and you will find that your American Express begins with a 3, your Visa begins with a 4, your MasterCard with a 5 and your Discover card with a 6. Many credit card thieves fail to do even the most basic research, and often just by matching the card with its corresponding number, you can bust the bandit.
Your credit card: Now playing in 3D. Another great way to catch a credit card thief is to check out the hologram, which is located on the front of all credit card times except for AmEx which has a strip on the back. Most legitimate credit cards have a sharp appearance, but often forged credit cards will look dull and have a 2D appearance.
Make ‘Em Sweat. Last, but not least, the easiest way to catch a credit card con-artist in action is to observe their behavior. Unless they are very experienced and sociopathic, thieves will usually appear nervous and may try to distract or confuse you. Stay focused, check the above tips and you will be on your watch to uncovering credit card fraud.
For more information about credit card fraud, visit BBB.org or give us a call at 858.495.2131.
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