Identity theft is among the most potentially financially crippling crimes in the country. It is rampant here in Georgia, including here in metro Atlanta. Georgia ranks seventh in the nation in reported cases, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The estimated financial impact is $500 per victim.
It is no surprise that an Atlanta-wide coalition of civic groups and local government officials have initiated a public awareness program to combat identity theft here. The campaign is being led by the Atlanta Victim Assistance’s Project SAFE program and is being funded through a U.S. Justice Department grant.
There are steps consumers can take to help protect themselves, including using a credit card instead of a debit card, according to the Wallet Blog’s report on the topic.
In short, money stolen from your checking account with a debit card can send your finances quickly spiraling with bounced checks. With a credit card, there is more time to recoup the losses and recover.
Here’s an excerpt from the blog:
Credit cards should be the first choice for consumers who want maximum convenience and minimum hassle should they become the victims of fraud. But in the case that you have no choice but to use a debit card, report any unauthorized transactions you notice immediately. And if your bank is slow to move or tells you that they can’t issue you a refund for whatever reason, you may want to remind them of the agreement they made with VISA or MasterCard in order to be able you to issue you your debit card in the first place. If this doesn’t work get in touch with the network in question and ask that they investigate. They were pretty quick to respond to us.
To find out more about the Project SAFE program, call Atlanta Victim Assistance at 404-588-4740.
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