Protecting Your Credit Card Info

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Banks do everything they can to prevent fraud because they are responsible for the losses, not consumers or retailers. Behind each credit and debit card banks invest an enormous amount of security measures.

Dennis Koons, the President of Michigan Bankers Association, said when it comes to losses the weakest link tends to be the retailer.

Still everyone should take precautions.

"Consumers can protect their card, their account number, their pin at all times," said Koons. "Second they need to check their accounts frequently and watch for suspicious activity and report it immediately."

Customers don't have to wait for their statement, they can check their history online or over the phone.

"Typically, the organized rings move very quickly and your card numbers will be used to make purchases within hours anywhere in the world," said Koons.

Thursday morning, Target announced it had been hacked and that as many as 40 million cutomer credit and debit cards had been stolen during a three week period.

The announcement comes at possibly the worse time of the year--when retailers are trying to score big with customers, and the last thing customers want to deal with is fraud or identity theft.

"Nobody's going to take care of an individual victim situation better than the individual victim. You may think, 'Oh, let's just wait and see what happens,' well the longer you wait the greater potential there is for your information to be compromised," said Patrick Corbett, a Professor at Cooley Law School who specializes in criminal law.

For people who plan to travel, it's a good idea to let your bank know, so it doesn't flag any real purchases as potentially fraud.

"Don't let this be something once and done. Once your data is out there its possible that they could be lying sedentary for a while and try to do something about this months from now." said Corbett.

Bottom line, deal with companies you trust, protect your information and check your purchase history often. In addition to checking with your financial institutions for fraud, you should also check with the three national credit agencies. Consumers are entitled to one free report a year, from each agency.

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