Credit Card Security - How Can you Protect Yourself?

By: Adam Singleton

Credit card fraud is a constant cause of concern for almost every credit card or debit card user. After all, having your credit card details stolen means that it's more than your money that is in danger of being taken away from you - your name, personal address and your personal identity will all be under threat as well. The last major credit card scandal to rock news headlines, for instance, occurred in March 2007 when US company TJX, the owners of UK retail outlet TK Maxx, revealed that at least 45.7 million payment card details from its customers had been stolen by hackers.

While the TK Maxx credit card scandal sent shockwaves through the credit card statements of many UK consumers, it's important to see the scale of this particular case as an anomaly rather than the norm. In fact, a recent survey by APACS, the UK payments association, shows that total card fraud losses have continued to fall between 2004 and 2006. Last year, total card fraud losses across the UK stood at ?428 million - that's three per cent lower than 2005's figure of ?439.4 million. In turn, the 2005 statistics were an improvement from 2004, at which time total card fraud accounted for over ?500 million.

While fraud on stolen or lost cards and mail-non receipt fraud dropped significantly in 2006 - by a staggering 23 per cent and 62 per cent respectively - other types of card fraud are still on the up. The biggest increase in credit card fraud has been in the card-not-present category - by which card fraud that has occurred over the phone, mail or internet. This category saw fraud rise by a whole 16 per cent.

In fact, online card fraud has been a major concern for many consumers of late as the breadth of the goods and services offered on the internet means that more and more people are paying for products over the internet. However, many credit card companies are taking action to ensure that credit card fraud due to online payments is as minimal as possible.

Visa, for instance, have just launched Verified by Visa - a new service that, once activated, requires the cardholder to enter a personally-set password every time they make a payment online. By using this identity protecting format, Verified by Visa technology allows Visa cardholders to minimise the risk of having their card details stolen online and offers a new method of online payments that is sure to see results.

If you're looking for a new credit card provider online, and credit card security is one of your primary concerns, you'll be able to compare credit cards over the internet to establish which credit card companies offer you the best safeguards against security and card fraud. Of course, whatever credit card company you ultimately opt for, it's always crucial to adhere to basic preventative advice - such as not giving your credit card to any person you don't trust, and not throwing away your card when it's expired, but cutting it up instead. Taking these basic precautions against card fraud will minimise the risk of identity theft and will bolster any protection your credit card company might be able to give you.

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