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Credit Card Transaction Alerts Help Fight Fraud

by Barbara Marquand

A key to fighting credit card fraud is to monitor your statements closely in case anything suspicious pops up, such as charges for purchases you never made.

Years ago, you had to wait until your credit card bill arrived in the mail to compare receipts to the itemized statement. However, now you can learn about potentially fraudulent activity right away, thanks to transaction alert services offered by credit card companies.

Javelin Strategy & Research suggests having transaction alerts sent to you online and to your mobile device. In a recent study, the firm found that two-thirds of American consumers believe that financial alerts are useful and valuable, and that by 2014, 41 percent of online households--or 62 million--will receive financial alerts.

Credit Card Companies Offer Real-Time Alerts

Both Discover and American Express provide transaction alert services for credit cards, and Visa recently announced the North American roll-out of real-time transaction alerts, which let credit card issuers provide almost immediate notice to Visa account holders in the U.S. and Canada.

To receive alerts, you must sign up for the service with your credit card company and choose the criteria for alerts. For instance, you could ask to be notified any time a purchase is made over a certain dollar amount, or when cash withdrawals are made from ATM machines. Visa cardholders can also ask for alerts on gasoline transactions or transactions that are declined, initiated internationally, or made online or by phone.

Credit Card Heads Up

When a suspicious type of transaction occurs, an alert is delivered to you within seconds via e-mail or text message to your cell phone, pager, or PDA. The message includes the amount, time, and date of the transaction, as well as the name and location of the merchant.

Transaction alerts help fight fraud by letting you know of fishy activity earlier. The sooner you can stop thieves in their tracks, the better. If you receive information about suspicious card activity, call your credit card company right away to report the fraud.

Don't depend solely on transaction alerts to monitor your credit card use. Financial experts advise checking your activity and statements online frequently. Keeping close track of your credit card use helps you thwart thieves, as well as keep tabs on your own spending.


Published 02/22/11 (Modified 03/01/11)

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