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By Brian O’Connell
With news coming out of Washington that the U.S. economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), fell by 6.1% for the first quarter of 2009, it looks like the Great Recession isn’t going away anytime soon.
In addition, with unemployment inching up toward 10% and home foreclosures still on the rise, a jump in credit card fraud is the last thing that American consumers need, but that’s exactly what they’re getting.
Recent events bear this trend out. In Virginia, a former bank credit card department manager has been sentenced to two years and three months in prison for bank fraud and identity theft.
According to the Associated Press on April 28, “U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said Monday that 38-year-old Bernard James Brown Jr. of Saluda also was ordered to pay more than $65,000 in restitution to his former employer, Eastern Virginia Bankshares.
Prosecutors say Brown used a stolen access device and identifying information to withdraw money from someone’s account. After the credit card account was closed, Brown reopened it under a new name and address and continued to tap the account for cash and purchases.”
As credit card scam artists like Brown get more brazen and more creative, U.S. credit card holders are growing more anxious. According to a 2009 survey by Unisys Security Index, approximately 75 percent of Americans believe that the global financial crisis increases their risk of identity and related fraud. More than two-thirds surveyed said they are extremely concerned about other people obtaining and using their credit and debit card data, with 90 percent at least somewhat concerned. Unisys adds that credit and debit card fraud is the top security concern for people, with 68 percent saying they are extremely or very concerned; 66 percent said they are seriously concerned about unauthorized access to or misuse of personal information.
So how can credit card holders protect their cards and their money?
With the economy in peril, credit card con artists are very serious about sealing your card information. So prepare yourself by taking extra care in protecting your card data.
— For more ways to save, spend, invest and borrow, visit MainStreet.com.