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Don't fall victim to credit card fraud this holiday

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - It's the season of giving and the season of spending.

Whether you're out swiping your credit cards at the shops or making your purchases online, it's also a vulnerable time of the year for many who may fall victim to credit card fraud.

Could you fall victim to the Grinch this holiday season?  

"It's the holidays and we don't want people to have a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to the Christmas season it's a time when people should be celebrating and the last thing you want to be doing is scrub your bank accounts 1606 because someone stole your account and you don't' want to have to deal with law enforcement, paperwork to get your money back," said Guam attorney general Leonardo Rapadas.

And while the Attorney General's Office established an Identity Theft Task Force earlier this year, Rapadas reminds residents to protect their card information too.

"We need to make sure that no ones looking over our shoulder. Very simple things. Sometimes the banks will help and have keypads that are hidden but you need to be proactive in protecting that sort of information try to shred your information. Don't put everything in one spot," he said.

What else can you do? Check your credit reports, read your bank, credit card, and account statements, and shred your documents - personal, financial, and medical before you throw them away.

If you're shopping online, use websites that protect your financial information with encryption. Can you tell what's secure and what isn't? Look for the "S" at the end of the HTTPS at the beginning of the web address. "S" stands for secure meaning your card information will be secure too.

Also online, don't send information to any website that isn't fully encrypted if you're on a public wireless network.

Other times, Rapadas says, residents are too quick to hand off their credit card to the cashier or waitstaff.

"How many times with the wait staff, do you give them your card and they just walk off with it? They showed us how quickly your information on that card can be taken whether through electronic means or just plain old pencil and paper 0849 to get your number and they're back right away and you're not knowing exactly what happened," he said.

The Identity Theft Task Force also addresses the 400 Guam residents fell victim to identity theft earlier this year. These residents reported receiving letters in the mail that they owed the IRS tens of thousands of dollars...

If this is you, visit the AG's website or their offices in Tamuning located in the ITC Building.

He said, "They can go directly. They can come to our office and give the information. They can go to GPD. GPD is in our task force. They can go the IRS here. What we're trying to do is funnel all the information so the investigation can continue. Once someone gets this letter is contact us the IRS, GPD. Once all of that stuff happens then whatever notices of levy that's all going to stop."

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