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Home / Credit Cards / More Fear Credit Card Fraud Than Terrorism!


The holidays are fast approaching. Not the traditional holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the unofficial shoppers holidays like Black Friday, Early Bird Specials, and Cyber Monday. As they approach like a bullet train, people are gripping their wallets more closely. Not in order to save money, but to keep fraudsters from dipping into them, in a digital sense, according to a Gallup poll.

Gallup’s Crime Poll

Gallup began assessing consumers’ worries about the juxtaposition of technology and credit in 2000. Those polls have shown some interesting ebbs and flows, but this year’s Crime Poll is noteworthy in that nearly 70 percent of respondents say they have some level of worry about their credit card accounts being compromised. Nearly the same number are concerned that their smartphones and computers may be hacked.

Cyber-crime is such a concern that it overshadows terrorism, mugging, and home burglary. At the same time, very few people file police reports when their accounts are hacked, while nearly everyone reports a mugging or burglary. The worries about cyber-crime show definite socioeconomic tendencies. For example, people who are between the ages of 30 and 64, and make in excess of $30,000 per year are a very nervous group. The amount of concern is highest amongst those between 50 and 64 who make in excess of $75,000. So much concern on a topic begs the question, is it worth all of the hoopla?

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

First, let’s acknowledge the clear ripping off of that cheesy song title and express gratitude to Bobby McFerrin. With that over, we can get back to it. In short, no it is not worth all of the hoopla. Why? The Fair Credit Billing Act. Due to the FCBA, you are:

”Entitled to demand the immediate removal of unauthorized charges, dispute those for goods and services that were returned or never received, and to call for corrections to amounts that were incorrectly tabulated.”

The FCBA does not protect debit card users. Debit cards fall under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. Since these cards almost instantaneously lower your cash balance, having one hacked can leave you lacking for funds and hoping that the bank will replace them or the vendor will refund the money. Even if either happens, it can take a full billing cycle (28-31 days) to occur. You do have the ability to catch a hacker before they drain your accounts, though.

In most instances, hackers are not sure if the numbers they have obtained are still connected to valid accounts or how much cash is available, so they run a series of two or three small transactions. These transactions may only be three to ten dollars to avoid detection. These small, quickly successive transactions will assess the amount of cash available and the presence of account alerts. Some card issuers offer email alerts if your card is used without being presented, online shopping for example. Nearly all issuers allow you to set daily spending limits for your debit card. Taking advantage of both should prevent the unauthorized use of your debit card or, at least, limit the impact of a hack. Some other tips include:

  • Safeguard your cards.
  • Check your accounts regularly and verify the charges that are posted.
  • Report discrepancies immediately.
  • Password protect your smartphone, laptop, desktop and tablet, then regularly change those passwords.
  • Never use public wi-fi to shop or check your accounts.
  • Depending on the software capabilities of your smartphone, you should set a limit for the number of login attempts allowed before the software automatically deletes stored data.

A major theme of the Gallup poll was identity theft. Your best weapon against that is to check your credit reports regularly. You can request one free report from each of the major agencies at Keep in mind that you do not have to request them all at the same time. If you request one from a different agency every four months, you will be able to keep an eye on your identity year-round. If you spot an account that you do not recognize, report it immediately to the credit agency and the police.


About the author: Jerry Coffey


Jerry Coffey spent many years in a debt-riddled gray area somewhere between broke and desperately broke. His seemingly endless need for more and more cash led him to payday loans, repossessions, bankruptcy, and depression. After years of the same financial style, he heard a piece of advice that inspired him to find a way to change. The advice: ''The very definition of a fool is someone who continues to do the same things, but expects different results.'' This led him to a much more frugal lifestyle that sees all of his bills paid on time and a growing savings account. Even the seed of a retirement account has begun to sprout.


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