Don’t get taken to the MAXX

The world’s biggest theft of credit card details has left 45 million people at risk of fraud. Anyone who paid with a credit or debit card at TK Maxx shops between January 2003 and June 2004 better start checking their card statements carefully.

That doesn’t mean all of us should start worrying – millions of the card details stolen relate to plastic that is no longer used. And it doesn’t mean we have to stop using cards but it should be a reminder to be careful with your plastic.

The good news is that the introduction of CHIP and PIN technology on Valentine’s Day 2006 has cut the levels of fraud and meant 138 million new cards have been issued. Fraud losses have fallen by around five per cent in the past two years.

But that is still a lot of money and the bad news is that online fraud is rising. How do you make sure you are not a victim? can help you.

Play your cards right

The most important advice is to not let your cards or your card details out of your sight when you are spending. If someone has your card out of your sight it is possible to get enough information to commit fraud. So be careful.

That means not throwing away receipts in the street or leaving them in restaurants or shops. Ideally you should shred everything but at least you should try to dispose of them safely.

Do not write down passwords, login details and PINs. If they are in your wallet and it is stolen it’s an invitation to fraudsters.

And when you are online don’t reply to unsolicited emails asking for your passwords and PINs. This is a technique known to fraudsters as phishing. Don’t get caught in the net.

Protect your plastic in shops and online

When you are taking cash out of an ATM or paying in a shop don’t let anyone look over your shoulder to see what your PIN is. Use your spare hand to shield your card and PIN details.

When you are on the phone only give out your account details if you have made the call and you trust the company you are dealing with. If they phone you they should not ask for your account information, so do not let it slip if you weren’t expecting the call.

You can register your cards with Verifiied by Visa or Mastercard SecureCode. Ask your bank or card provider about these services. You can register online but of course if you do register keep your password safe and secure.

When you go to your bank’s website always type in the address yourself. Don’t click through from emails.

And only use websites which have a security icon on them. This will be a locked padlock or an unbroken key in the bottom of your browser window.

If it goes wrong the fraudsters won’t win

One in three people in the UK have been card fraud victims and a card fraud takes place every nine seconds. So you’re not alone.

If you have been caught tell your bank or building society immediately and report the theft or loss to the police immediately.

Telling the police will make the process of getting your money back a lot easier.
Don’t worry. If someone uses your card before you tell the bank or building society then the most you will have to pay is £50.

But in practice banks and building societies will refund all your losses unless of course you are proved to be negligent.

However if you follow’s advice you can prove you’ve not been careless.

And consider taking out card protection insurance. It’ll cost around £29 a year and will ensure you will have help and won’t lose any money.

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