Credit card fraud costs Americans more than $1 billion. And it takes all forms, from stealing cards to parking a van near a phone booth where someone is using a credit card to charge a call and videotaping the transaction.

-! How can you protect yourself?

If you don't receive a billing statement on time, notify the credit card issuer immediately. Upon receipt, check your billing

statements to make sure all charges are yours.

Be careful in disposing of materials and correspondence relating to your finances. Shred all receipt carbon copies before disposing of them, to make sure your credit card number is unrecognizable.

Destroy all old cards or cards you no longer use. Secure your mailbox. Obtain a lock, if necessary.

When applying for a card, check the return address of the card issuer. If there is a sticker with a return address placed on the application, contact the card issuing company to verify th correct address.

Don't give your card number to anyone calling on the telephone offering you prizes or gifts.

For more tips, write to Facing Financial Fraud, c/o Citibank MasterCard and Visa, 301 East 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10022.

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