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Retailers often unprotected in credit fraud - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Retailers often unprotected in credit fraud

Rutland, Vermont - October 26, 2010

Officials say a man in Chittenden County is using stolen credit cards to make large purchases in exchange for drugs. While consumers are often protected from this kind of credit card fraud, retailers are often left holding the bag.  

Rutland TV Service has been in business for 48 years. Owner Tom Seward says he has watched credit card use in his store increase exponentially. He says about 70 percent of his sales are paid on credit cards and around this time of year that number increases. "During the holidays, because of last minute shopping and all, it jumps up at least another 10 percent," Seward said.

A few years ago the store fell victim to credit card theft and they were left to deal with the check. "They called us, they said the card has been stolen and we are going to deduct this amount from your account," Seward said.

He says the recent stolen credit card incidents in Chittenden County remind him of that sale gone wrong. "I had some phone calls ordering product from Nigeria. I sent DVD's over. I got credit card approval, I even checked with the banks to make sure the credit cards were fine," he said. But a few months later Seward found out it was fraud. "Come to find out they were stolen. I didn't find that out for 90 days. I was out a couple thousand dollars, but it was a lesson learned."

Steve Pelletier with the Vermont State Employees Credit Union says in incidents like this federal laws protect the consumer over the retailer. "If you call and say this is not my transaction, they have 24 hours to reverse it and then research it," he said. Credit Card companies may call you if they see questionable activity on your account, but Pelletier says you can't rely on them for it.

Different banks offer different amenities including text message updates to your cell phone about account activity, but experts say the only person you can trust to comb through that activity, is yourself. "Read your statement. Make sure everything in that statement is yours. There are many transactions going on. They cannot check them all," Pelletier said.

Experts say while rules may vary for retailers, credit card holders have up to 60 days to report a fraudulent purchase, after that it may be too late to get your money back.

Molly Smith - WCAX News

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