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Want to Keep Your Credit Safe? Don't Go Here!

According to a recent study, 57 percent of Americans have been victims of credit card fraud. With that statistic in mind, how can you make sure you avoid using your credit card in the places where you're most likely to become a victim?

"Early Show" Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen points out that 60 percent of Americans use wireless broadband and even shop online from public places, which she says is a no-no.

"Just because Wi-Fi is available does not mean that you should be using it to do your banking, your shopping," she adds. "If you're in a public place and you're using that public Wi-Fi, be very, very careful if you are going to go on and look at your bank statement, or use your credit card."

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While cafes are enticing to drink your java and shop away, it's best to exercise caution when clicking.

"It's everything from your coffee shop to the airport, to your fast food restaurant. Everybody offers Wi-Fi," Koeppen says. "But if you are going to go on Wi-Fi, you should use your VPN (your virtual private network). Most business people know what I'm talking about; they have one through work. If you don't have one through work, you can download one."

Smart phones may be great and convenient, but they can be a danger spot, as well.

"Just like using your laptop, if you are in a spot that offers Wi-Fi, just because your smart phone gives you that ability to buy something online doesn't mean it's a good idea," Koeppen explains.

A few months ago, Koeppen used an ethical hacker and went to a local coffee shop in New York City that offered free Wi-Fi to see if he could gain access to her laptop. Turns out, the ethical hacker was able to see what she was doing on her laptop, and was able to see what her producer was doing on his iPhone.

"So there are people out there who are sitting in these cafes who are just sort of waiting for someone to click on," she says.

Non-bank owned ATMs are another risky location where you can become a victim.

According to Koeppen, you're pretty protected if you're using an ATM that comes from a bank. But, those solo machines in the laundromat or that pop up by side of a the bar, you have to be leary about.

"The encryption isn't always that great. People can actually take the hard drive out of those and read information," she says. "Sometimes, those things are phony. They're actually set up as a machine for you to put in your card, whether a debit card or credit card, so someone can steal your information."

How about recurring bills? Because it's very handy, subscriptions that automatically just get updated on a month-to-month or year-to-year basis are another potential trouble spot.

"You might forget you have signed up for the annual payment that's automatically going to be charged to your credit card. Perfect example. You sign up for a magazine. You sign up for the auto pay every year. Well, you forget that you did that, and then they send you a renewal notice in the mail, so you pay that, and then you also have the auto pay that you had signed up for, so now you've been dinged twice for that $12.99 magazine or whatever it might be," Koeppen adds. "So, it's always a good idea to know when you're paying your bill. Don't leave it up to somebody else to automatically ding your credit card."

Lastly, twenty pecent of people out there are victims of skimming.

"It's a huge problem. They estimate that one-out-of-five people will be the victim of skimming, which it's this little device called a wedge, and you can easily shove it into a gas station pump, or your waitress can easily put it in her pocket. They take your credit card, they steal your information, without actually stealing your credit card, then they sell that information, pennies on the dollar, on the black market. People can make credit cards using your information."

"Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge suggested you read all your bills carefully and, when you get those monthly statements, check them out right down to an erroneous 35 cent or 40 cents.

"It might be a pain, but really read line by line. Read everything that's on your credit card statement," Koeppen agreed.