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VISA OUTLINES 12 PREVENTIVE STEPS AGAINST CONSUMER CREDIT CARD FRAUD

 VISA OUTLINES 12 PREVENTIVE STEPS AGAINST CONSUMER CREDIT CARD FRAUD
 SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- In support of the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs' National Consumers Week, which this year is celebrated from Oct. 25 through Oct. 31 under the theme "Operation Wise Buy," Visa U.S.A. today issued 12 recommended steps that consumers can take to safeguard their credit cards from fraudulent use. The steps are outlined in a new publication "Credit Cards: An Owner's Manual,"(C) which is available to consumers free of charge by calling 800-VISA-511, and through participating financial institutions. The 12 steps are:
 (1) Protect your cards as if they were cash. Criminals think of credit cards as money and you should too. Treat a credit card with as much care as you would a $1,000 bill.
 (2) Save sales receipts and check them against your monthly statement. If you see a charge you don't recognize or if you notice any inconsistencies, write your credit card provider right away.
 (3) Make a record of credit card account numbers and telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards. In fact, it's a good idea to make a list of everything you carry in your wallet, including credit card numbers, and keep that list in a safe place.
 (4) Be careful in giving out your credit card number over the telephone. If you are not familiar with a firm, get its full name and address and contact the Better Business Bureau to check it out. Fraudulent telemarketing is a significant and growing problem.
 (5) Do not write your credit card number on any check. Although merchants might ask you for this information, you have the right to refuse to give it.
 (6) Do not reveal any personal information when you use your credit cards. According to Visa regulations, merchants cannot require you to provide any personal information, such as your address or telephone number, as a condition to accepting your card; they may require only a valid card and your signature.
 (7) Make certain the credit card handed back to you by a store clerk is your card. If charge slips with carbons are used, check that the clerk tears or splits the carbon sheets before you leave the store, otherwise your card account number could be obtained from the slip and used fraudulently.
 (8) When mailing in your monthly credit card payment, take it directly to the post office or a mailbox. Some thieves have been known to take these envelopes out of home mailboxes, appropriating the account number for fraudulent purchases.
 (9) Report a lost or stolen card to the issuer immediately. If you don't have this information, call Visa International toll-free, 24 hours a day at 800-336-3386. If you are out of the country, call 410-581-9994, collect.
 If your card is lost or stolen and is used by another person to make an unauthorized purchase, you can be held liable only for a maximum of $50.
 (10) Know who has access to your cards. If your credit card is "borrowed" by a family member (spouse, child, parent), with or without your knowledge, you may be responsible for their purchases.
 (11) You may be responsible for your children's debts, whether or not you have co-signed for their credit cards. Be sure to know the laws in your state.
 (12) If you become separated or divorced and your spouse is on your credit account, you may still be liable for your spouse's purchases. Be sure to change the status of your credit cards when your status changes.
 "In spite of all the safeguards credit providers build into the system, it isn't foolproof," the Owner's Manual tells consumers. "Credit card fraud is a big and very costly problem ... It takes very little time and effort to manage your credit card and protect it from abuse. A few minutes spent now can save you hours of frustration later."
 According to Linda Golodner, president of the National Consumers League: "Credit card fraud has reached alarming levels. Everyone can help cut down on credit card fraud by following a few simple rules and by learning exactly how and where it can occur."
 "Credit Cards: An Owner's Manual," which also provides information on personal financial management, was developed by Visa U.S.A. as part of its ongoing educational efforts in order to help consumers better understand the value and wise use of credit cards. Sixteen new Cathy(TM) cartoons by Cathy Guisewite help make the information contained in the manual engaging and easily understood.
 Visa, with 10 million acceptance locations, over 125,000 ATMs and 290 million cards issued, including 145 million in the United States, is the world's largest consumer card payment program.
 "Credit Cards: An Owner's Manual"(C) Visa U.S.A. Inc. 1992
 Cathy(TM) is a trademark of Guisewite Studio.
 -0- 10/27/92
 /CONTACT: Dave Brancoli, 415-570-3830, or Mary Coady, 415-358-2517, both of Visa U.S.A./ CO: Visa U.S.A. ST: California IN: FIN SU:


SG-TM -- SF001 -- 5323 10/27/92 11:03 EST
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Date:Oct 27, 1992
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