FORT LAUDERDALE, FL--(Marketwire - Mar 5, 2013) - Credit card fraud has increased considerably over the last five years affecting consumers' credit scores and financial standing. As a call to action, Consolidated Credit is celebrating the National Consumer Protection Week, March 3-9, 2013 to educate Americans on consumer safety. This nationwide campaign is supported by government agencies, organizations and businesses.
According to the Consumer Sentinel Network, a total of 990,242 complaints were fraud-related, up from 815,054 in 2010 and 620,218 in 2008. Credit card fraud is the second most common form of reported identity theft, with 14 percent of cases linked to credit cards. Consumers paid an average of $537 to solve fraudulent cases where their personal information was compromised, according to the Consumer Sentinel Network.
Howard Dvorkin, CPA and Founder of ConsolidatedCredit.org, warns consumers about the devastating effects of identity theft and credit card fraud.
"This is a great opportunity for consumers to become more educated about how to protect themselves from fraud and abuse," Dvorkin said. "More than ever consumers need to be aware of online scams often due to the easy accessibility to data that the Internet offers to cyber thieves."
Dvorkin's tips for consumers to protect their personal information and finances:
Report stolen credit cards immediately: If personal documents or credit cards are stolen, consumers need to file a report with the police and cancel their credit cards immediately. After that, contacting banks and the Social Security Administration are essential steps consumers should take to protect their identity.
Always request a receipt for purchases: Keeping receipts is important not only to track credit card debt, but also to detect fraudulent transactions. All receipts must be matched with credit and debit card transactions once a week to spot potential fraudulent charges.
Check business reviews with the Better Business Bureau: To avoid fraudulent businesses and services, check the BBB to check out reviews, ratings and complaints.
Take action against fraud: There are several resources to fight against fraud. Consumers can first contact their creditors and financial institutions to remove any fraudulent charges on their accounts. However, if the issue is not resolved, consumers should reach out to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to take their cases to the next level.
Avoid using credit cards in certain places: Some thieves specialize in stealing credit card numbers at gas stations and restaurants. While it wouldn't be realistic for individuals to stop using credit cards completely, they can try to carry cash for purchases at convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants and retail stores.
Consolidated Credit, founded in 1993, is one of the nation's largest credit counseling organizations in the country and has helped over 5 million people with financial issues. Their mission is to assist families throughout the US in ending financial crisis and solving money management problems through education and professional counseling.