Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is on the rise as thieves become more sophisticated and consumers become more reliant on using their credit cards.

Identity theft is a rapidly spreading crime. It can range from unauthorized use of your credit card to someone creating a “duplicate” of you—complete with your birth date and social security number.

The best weapon against identity theft is a well-educated consumer. Listed below you will find a summary of tips pertaining to identity theft and shopping online. We strongly encourage every consumer, whether or not they are a Columbia Bank customer, to educate themselves and learn as much as they can about what other threats are out there.

We highly recommend the FDIC Website as an excellent source of consumer safety tips. We also recommend that every credit and debit card holder visit the VISA® Website for safety tips specific to card use. For further security information, please visit the other areas of our Security Resource Center for useful links and information.

Remember, you can't be too safe. This is a lot to remember, but no one wants to go through the ordeal of identity theft. Should it ever happen, we’ll be there to assist in any way we can—but together we can also take as many preventative measures as possible. See our privacy policy for information on the steps Columbia Bank takes to protect your information.

Visa® Empowers Cardholders to Fight Fraud

Visa Marks National Cyber Security Awareness Month with Launch of New Website to Help Consumers Fight Payment Card Fraud

October 4, 2010 – Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) marks National Cyber Security Awareness Month with the launch of a new website to help cardholders and small businesses protect payment card account information, avoid payment card scams and resolve unauthorized use of their cards.

Visa is providing cardholders tips with practical know-how for protecting account information, avoiding payment card scams, and resolving unauthorized card use. Visa’s new website, at, is available in English and Spanish. Visa also joins the National Cyber Security Alliance’s “Stop. Think. Connect.” campaign to educate consumers about protecting themselves and their personal information online.

“While cardholders using Visa debit and credit cards are protected by Visa’s zero liability policy1, many consumers believe that security is a shared responsibility and want to take an active role in managing and protecting their Visa accounts,” said Jennifer Fischer, head of U.S. Payment System Risk, Visa Inc. “Visa’s site is intended to empower cardholders with information to prevent fraud, avoid deceptive marketing practices and learn about important protections and resources available to them.”

A study by Javelin Strategy & Research found more than half of consumers view the responsibility for protecting financial accounts from fraud as shared between themselves and their financial institution.2

Consumer Tips on How to Stay Safe Online

While the vast majority of Internet shopping purchases go through safely, consumers face hazards ranging from spyware to deceptive marketing practices. Consumers can learn basic tips about navigating the internet safely by visiting the National Cyber Security Alliance’s website at When it comes to protecting financial information online, Visa offers a few additional tips. More information is available at

  • Keep current with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, download only from trusted sites, and don’t click pop-up windows or suspicious links in emails, even from people you know. These can all be tricks to install spyware and steal financial information.
  • When using a website’s checkout, look for the safety symbols such as the padlock icon in the browser’s status bar and “s” after “http” in the URL, or the words "Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)." These are signs that the merchant is using a secure page for transmitting personal information.
  • Activate Verified by Visa to add an extra layer of password protection during online checkout.
  • Remember that Visa never calls or writes cardholders for personal account information.
  • Do not provide sensitive information unless you initiated the communication. Report requests for personal information to your card issuer by calling the number on the back of your card.
  • Be wary of "free trial" offers. Take time to read and understand all terms and conditions. Pay particular attention to any pre-checked boxes before you submit your payment card information for an order. Failing to un-check the boxes may bind you to terms and conditions you’re not interested in.
  • Finally, monitor card statements or account activity regularly and report any suspicious or unauthorized charges to the financial institution that issued the card. When fraud does occur, Visa cardholders are protected from unauthorized purchases with a “zero liability” policy.


In addition to educational resources for consumers, Visa makes its transaction alerts and notification service available through participating financial institutions. Alerts are sent on behalf of issuers to cardholders directly from Visa’s global processing network, typically within seconds of a transaction occurring. Alerts are triggered when the transaction meets certain criteria the account holder has selected and are delivered directly to the account holder via email or SMS text message. Visa’s transaction alerts let consumers monitor their accounts for unusual activity and take immediate action if they believe a potentially fraudulent transaction is taking place.

“Criminals can be quite resourceful in their attempts to steal cardholder information, but equipped with the right information and tools, consumers can be very effective in preventing fraud,” Fischer concluded.”

For more information, visit

1 Visa’s Zero Liability policy covers U.S.-issued cards only and does not apply to ATM transactions, PIN transactions not processed by Visa, or certain commercial card transactions. Cardholder must notify issuer promptly of any unauthorized use. Consult issuer for additional details or click here

2 Javelin Strategy & Research, Gen Y Security Backlash, “Figure 2: Primary Responsibility for Security - by Generation,” April 2009.


Online Shopping Safety Tips

  • Use a secure server when shopping online.
  • Only shop with merchants you know and trust.
  • Read all merchants' policies and privacy statements.
  • Never send your card number and information via e-mail.
  • Keep a record of your receipts by saving and/or printing your order confirmation.

Tips to Avoid Card Identity Theft

  • Sign your new credit and debit cards on the signature panel immediately.
  • Protect your cards as if they were cash—never leave your card unattended and always make sure your card is returned after every purchase.
  • Never leave your credit or debit cards in your car. An alarmingly high proportion of credit and debit cards are stolen from cars.
  • Report lost or stolen cards to Columbia Bank immediately!
  • Carry as few credit or debit cards as possible and check periodically to make sure you have all of your cards in your possession.
  • Only carry your social security card, birth certificate or passport when absolutely necessary.
  • Never have your social security number or driver’s license number printed on your check.
  • Never give personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Shred papers that contain personal financial data before disposing of them.
  • Never write your personal identification number (PIN) down—memorize it.
  • Never disclose your PIN to anyone over the phone or in person, for any reason. No one—from a financial institution, law enforcement or a merchant—should request, or would ever need, your PIN.
  • When selecting your PIN, always avoid the obvious—your name, phone number, date of birth or any simple combination thereof.
  • Dispose properly of receipts from using an ATM and credit or debit cards.
  • Keep a list of credit card and financial account numbers, including telephone contact numbers, in a secure place.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings—people and places—when using an ATM.

Credit Card Fraud Prevention

  • Don't give out your credit card number(s) online unless the site is secure and is reputable. Look for a tiny icon of a padlock on the bottom of the page that denotes a higher level of security to transmit data. The presence of the padlock is not a guarantee of a secure site, but might provide you some assurance.
  • Don't trust a site just because it claims to be secure.
  • Before using the site, check which security/encryption software it utilizes.
  • Make sure you are purchasing from a reputable source.
  • Do your homework on the individual/company to ensure that they are legitimate.
  • Try to obtain a physical address rather than merely a post office box and a phone number. Call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
  • Send them e-mail to see if they have an active e-mail address and be wary of sellers who use free e-mail services where a credit card is not required to open the account.
  • Consider not purchasing from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller's area.
  • Check out other Websites regarding this person/company.
  • Don't judge a person/company by their Website.
  • Be cautious when responding to special offers—especially through unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious when dealing with persons/companies from outside your own country.
  • The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because you can often dispute the charges if something is wrong.
  • Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card numbers.
  • You should also keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuer's contact information. If anything looks suspicious or if you lose your credit card(s)—contact the issuer immediately.