Houston - Credit card
Credit cards are billed monthly. Any purchase of goods (in person or by phone) will be stated in your account and you can choose to pay them in full or pay the minimum percentage required. You can pay for services, get cash from a merchant if the merchant permits (be aware that on money withdrawal, you pay interest because it is money you are borrowing).
Most credit cards offer a score card point scheme where any expense gives you points you can redeem to buy airline tickets or items chosen by the bank you are enrolled with.
Giving your credit card number over the phone or Internet can expose you to fruad, be sure you are talking to a legitimate merchant, and be sure your transaction takes place in a secure site (https) of a reputable company.
Export Import Bank of the United States
We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed using your name, address, social security number (SSN), credit card etc. Unfortunately I (author of this piece) have first hand knowledge, because my wallet was stolen last month and within a week the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, Received a PIN from DMV to change my driving record information online and more.
But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know.
As everyone always advises, cancel your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call.
Keep those where you can find them easily (having to hunt for them is additional stress you WON'T need at that point)!
On a personal note, I remember loosing a MC and until I got the toll free number from information etc., I was a wreck.
File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen; this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step towards an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here's what is perhaps most important: I never ever thought to do this.
Call the Three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and SSN.
I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name.
The alert means any company that Checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
By the time I was advised to do this - almost 2 weeks after the theft - all the damage had been done (there are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert).
Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in).
It seems to have stopped them in their tracks. The numbers are:
Tel: 1 800 525 6285
Experian (formerly TRW)
Tel: 1 800 301 7195
Tel: 1 800 680 7289
Social Security Administration also has a fraud line
Tel: 1 800 269 0271