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Protect yourself from credit card fraud

By Lance Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen | | June 16, 2005

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A government credit card can be a useful thing when a Marine is on temporary additional duties, but if a government credit card falls into the wrong hands it can be a nightmare.

Headquarters Marine Corps has recently received a fraud alert concerning government travel charge cards from Bank of America about an e-mail that asks service members to update their account information.

Bank of America will never contact a person by e-mail or phone calls at their place of residence and ask a person for their personal information or credit card numbers, according to Staff Sgt. Lucia Martinez.

Credit card fraud costs cardholders and issuers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Theft is the most common method of fraud but there are also other forms of fraud. Someone could get a person’s credit card number and use it to buy products on the card.

Credit card fraud will never be done away with, but there are a few simple things Marines can do to make sure they aren’t being scammed.

Marines should never give personal information such as credit card or social security numbers on e-mails, according to Sgt. Wessly D. Nuttall, the Government Charge Card advisor for Headquarter and Support Battalion, MCB.

They should also make sure they don’t give their credit card numbers to friends and they should shred important documents, according to Nuttall. Service members should sign their government credit card as soon as they get it, report any questionable charges promptly their card company and keep an eye on their card during transactions and get it back as quickly as possible.

Service members should never sign a blank receipt, and when a receipt is signed they should draw a line through any blank spaces above the total. Service members should never give their credit card number over the phone unless they are making a call to company that is reputable, according to the Federal Trade Commission Web site at www.ftc.com.

Headquarters and Support Battalion government credit cards are used for TAD only for and are only active when a Marine is TAD, according to Nuttall. This helps combat fraud because a person can only use the card during that period of time.

It is important that Marines also keep their government credit card on them at all time and store it in a secure place, according to Nuttall.

It is also important for Marines to read their orders and know what they are entitled to when they are TAD, according to Nuttall.

“When you sign the agreement with Bank of America you are responsible for paying off the balance of that card even if you haven’t gotten your travel claim back,” Nuttall said.

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