American credit card companies are fairly vigilant in watching out for fraud, as they can be on the hook for the charges, but it's still a good idea for consumers to pay attention.
Do you go over each credit charge every month to make sure that all of them are legit? You're not alone if you don't, but you might be missing ongoing fraudulent charges that pop up on tens of thousands of bills every month. That can add up to quite a lot, so every little bit of help can make a real difference. BillGuard is a free service that aims to democratize fraud monitoring; once you let it watch out for you, it takes others' reports into account when deciding what to flag. This should put a serious dent in credit card fraud; here's how to get started:
Sign up for a free BillGuard account. Yes, it needs read-only access to your credit card accounts, so consider the privacy ramifications before diving in. Here's the company's security info.
Once you've got your account set up, you'll need to enter account info for each card you want to monitor. BillGuard then connects, confirms, and scans your account.
Your first scan should yield a fairly comprehensive report. If you'd like, check it over and make sure that it got everything right. It tends to err on the side of caution as it should, so be sure to correct any unsure or flagged items if they are in fact legit. If they're not, it's time to contact your bank.
You can always check back online, but from this point on, BillGuard watches your activity and e-mails you if anything fishy pops up.
It's really that simple. The privacy issues are worth considering, but I think for many of us, BillGuard is a great way to catch fraud.