April 23, 2012 | last updated June 1, 2012 2:03 pm

CT BBB's timely tips on credit card safety

A recent data breach involving a credit card processing company is a reminder to consumers to keep a close watch for suspicious activity on credit card and bank statements.

Credit card issuers will typically notify customers if their accounts have been compromised. The issuer may send a new card and freeze the old account.

Some companies will offer fraud monitoring services for a limited period. If they do, find out whether the service will result in a charge to your account and how you can cancel the service it you don't want to keep paying for it.

Although most credit card companies don't charge cardholders for fraudulent charges on their accounts, customers need to check their accounts for potential fraud not detected by a card issuer's computers. You should look at transactions on the account regularly to make sure you actually made the listed purchases. Report any discrepancies immediately.

Most card issuers allow cardholders to check their accounts online. Some ID theft experts recommend that consumers switch to electronic delivery of credit card statements, especially if your mailbox isn't secure. This prevents thieves from stealing your mail to commit ID theft.

Another important step is checking your credit report on a regular basis. If you see accounts there that you didn't open, contact the issuer to report potential fraud.

Many advertisements claim to offer "free credit reports," "free credit scores" or "free credit monitoring." The only way to get a truly free copy of a credit report is by using a service sponsored by the three nationwide credit reporting agencies - Experian, Equifax and Transunion.

The service is available at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Consumers also may go to the website and download a request form that the reports be sent by mail. Reports typically arrive within two to three weeks.

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