Credit Card Fraud Tips
Unfortunately, there are no shortage of people in the world who are anxious to spend the money you’ve worked so hard to earn. Since credit card fraud can not only impact your ability to make purchases while the fraud investigation is underway, but can also have lasting consequences on your credit when it isn’t properly reported, it’s now more critical than ever to learn how to protect yourself from fraudsters.
Avoid Fraudster Favorites
In today’s fast-paced society, would-be fraudsters know that people will often sacrifice the security of their credit card information in favor of convenience. This makes online shopping and pay-at-the-pump gas stations perfect targets for anyone looking to steal your credit card information.
To keep your card secure when paying for gas, consider going inside to pay. While this may take a few extra minutes, you won’t have to worry about whether someone has placed card-skimming equipment on the pump’s credit card slot. If your gas station of choice offers a terminal that allows you to swipe your own card, even better. The less your credit cards leave your hands—and your sight—the less risk of someone skimming information.
As far as online purchases go, it’s not just about whether you’re shopping with a trusted site anymore. While the free WIFI available at your local coffee shop may make it easy for you to pay your bills and do a little shopping, these WIFI connections are often unsecure. This means that any nearby hacker who cares to see what you’re doing online can get in easily and make off with your credit card information before your latte cools.
Check Statements Often
Perhaps the biggest issue with credit card fraud is that someone can skim your credit card, make their own fraudulent card, and happily make as many purchases as your credit limit will allow without you ever knowing. Since fraudsters can do a lot of damage between credit card statements, create a habit of regularly checking your credit card activity online. While a weekly review is best, at least checking once between statements can help to minimize the amount of damage someone’s allowed to do to your account.
Data Breach Preparedness
Even if you’ve been doing everything right to protect your credit card details, the stores you shop at can still be the victim of data breaches, leaving your credit card data exposed. As soon as you learn that a store you used your card at has experienced a data breach:
- Check your credit card statement for unusual activity
- Request a replacement card with a new number from the card issuer
- Be wary of potential phishing.
After a data breach, it’s always possible that the hackers may have been unable to get all the information they need to use your credit accounts. If you receive any emails after a corporate data breach involving your credit card asking for your mother’s maiden name, PIN information or your card’s security code, do not provide this information via email. Also, never use a provided link in an email to login to your online account, as they could be hoping to steal your password information.
If in doubt about the veracity of an email you’ve received, contact your credit card issuer by phone.
Report Suspicious Activity Quickly
While your credit card company may provide fraud liability protection, you don’t have an unlimited length of time to report suspected fraudulent activity. You’ll find the specific procedure for reporting suspicious activity—and how long you have to report it—on the back of your statement. This can vary from card issuer to card issuer, so always double-check. One card provider may expect you to provide the information in writing within 60 days, while another card company may accept the report via a customer service phone call. Ultimately, the faster you report fraudulent activity, the sooner you’ll be able to access your full credit limit again.
Note: Bank debit cards have the same magnetic strips that make them susceptible to data theft as credit cards do. Since losing access to the funds in your checking account for even a few days can be more financially catastrophic than finding fraudulent charges on your credit card, make time to review your checking account activity regularly so that you can contact your bank the moment you notice anything out of the ordinary.