Have Phantom Credit Charges Here’s Why and What You Might Do About It

by Bill on December 30, 2011

One of the biggest headaches after the holiday season, or any time during the year, is finding unknown charges on your credit card. If you have “phantom” credit charges, here’s the possible reason why and what you might do about it.

General Theft
To get access to your credit card information, all someone needs are the numbers on the front and back and maybe the passcode or PIN. People who are not careful of their surroundings are prone to having their credit card information swiped without their knowledge. The person standing behind you can get the numbers to your credit card by simply watching you if you punch the keys to activate the card. Reading off your number to someone over the phone is another easy mark to have your credit card information taken without your knowledge.

Credit Card Pirates
You don’t need to be at a public computer such as a library or terminal to have this happen. Your credit card information can be taken without your knowledge from your own computer if you don’t keep the browser history or the cache cleaned out daily. If you save your information in form fillers, that also allows your information to become vulnerable. Once this information is entered on the screen, all that is needed is a shipping address and an indication that it is different to the billing address – end of story and money. An IP address can be traced, but it won’t point to who used the card.

Best Practices
Now, I could tell you the basic tips on how to avoid getting charged for unwanted stuff in the future. Clearing your browser and cashe history daily helps. Guarding the numbers when you are in line like test answers from high school is another. But that won’t do anything if it already happened. So, now what?

Fixing Current Problems
The first thing to do is call the toll free number on the back of the card and start a dispute claim. Hopefully you found out about the charge before January when the first statement of the year arrives. Look over the entire statement twice for anything that doesn’t look right.
Round up all receipts and match them against every purchase, this is the best way to ensure you just didn’t forget about one. Follow the dispute process to the letter exactly. Keep all paper involved with the transaction as a trail.

Did you have problems with your credit card information being taken this year?

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