Payment/credit card frauds are the unauthorized use of your credit card or card account numbers for financial gain or purchase of goods and/or services. If you suspect fraudulent activity on your card, immediately call your issuer/bank. You can get a new card issued and also get your issuer to stop further transactions. Here are some more easy ways to protect your credit card online and offline.
1. Know where your card is at all times
Keep all your credit cards safe and know where they are at all times. Never share a card’s PIN with anyone. Use a difficult PIN. Do not use a birthday/anniversary or your SSN for the PIN. This would make it easy for fraudsters and scammers. Change your PIN periodically. Carry only those cards you need and keep away or destroy others that you do not use. A small pouch, zippered compartment or a locked safety deposit box are best places to store your credit and debit cards as they can prevent unauthorized access. Here are some more Don’ts as far as preventing credit card frauds are concerned
- Do not leave your card in your car.
- Never leave your cards unattended.
- Do not lend your card to anyone.
- Never write card’s PIN on the back of the card
2. Keep bank’s details handy
Always memorize or write down your account numbers, passwords, PIN etc in safe place. Know your bank’s address and the emergency contact number to call in case you need to call quickly report loss of card or fraudulent transactions.
3. Keep an eye on your card when you give it for transaction
Sign your card as soon as you get it. This way, your merchant can compare signatures at checkout. It also helps him validate that you are the true account holder. During transactions, keep an eye on your card at all times and demand to get it back quickly. This will reduce the risk of your card being used for fraudulent activity.
4. Save credit card receipts
Always compare all accumulated card receipts with your monthly account statement. This will help you keep a tab on transactions. You can immediately dispute doubtful transactions.
5. Destroy old cards and receipts having sensitive data
Shred all old plastic but do not rest assured that you are safe doing just that. Scammers and fraudsters could continue making fraudulent transactions without having physical possession of the card. Always inform a bank after you have destroyed the card. That way, the bank/issuer can close the account. Most companies will send you a notification after they have closed the account, via email or mail. Always check with your bank/issuer about their account closing protocol. When in doubt, call the bank.
6. Check your debit card transactions
Before entering the PIN or signing the receipt when using ATM or debit card, ascertain the amount and ensure that the transaction is correct. Only then enter the debit card PIN. Funds can get transferred almost immediately from checking or other account.
7. Notify your bank about changes, if any
If you move, notify your bank immediately. In case you get a notification about change of address which you haven’t asked for, immediately call your bank. If you stop getting your monthly statements in mail as always, call the bank to find out. Identity thieves could have re-directed your billing address.
8. Use secure websites for shopping
Never use websites without encryption technology. Secure websites will have an‘s’ displayed on their http website. They also have an unbroken padlock or a key displayed on the bar on the top or at the bottom. Only shop from retailers you know. As far as possible, stick to merchants in the United States. This will help protect you from fraud and identity theft by federal and state government. Secure websites also display a physical address and telephone number for customer service.
9. Do a background check on your online retailer
Safe online retailers will display security policy clearly. They also clearly notify you if they share your details with other vendors. Legitimate online merchants belong to seal-of-approval programs as well. SO you can check your online retailer on www.Truste.com or www.bbbonline.org.
10. Prefer using credit card over debit cards
When shopping online, it is best to use credit cards. This way, should you become a victim of online credit card fraud; you can limit your damages. With checking account number or debit card numbers, it is more difficult to stop and repair damage caused by various techniques of credit card frauds. Consider using only one card for all your online transactions. This will limit the damage an identity theft could do in the event one gets access to your information. You can also easily track all your online transactions with credit cards.
11. Know what online retailers need
The only information an online shopping site will ask you are your name, ship-to address, email id, means of payment and your phone number. Never give your password or SSN to these sites.
12. Save and print your transactions
Once you pay the money online, save and record each of the online transactions. Most merchants immediately send you an email or text message informing about the transaction. Never use anything other than the online merchant’s order form to do your shopping. Safe online retailers will not ask you for information separately. An identity thief, on the other hand, might ask you to resubmit financial data claiming there to be a problem with your account. A legitimate company will never do that.
13. Protect your home computer from spyware attacks
We have covered ways to prevent spyware and malware in this guide. The important thing is to never click on unknown website links. For example, there may be links promising celebrity nude photos or sex videos. Many times, you could get pop ups advertising free antivirus software, porno sites or pirated movies. These can make your PC vulnerable to identity theft and other techniques of credit card frauds.
14. Beware of email scams
Email scams or Phishing attacks can also compromise your credit card details and sensitive information. Many fraudulent emails come with spelling mistakes, doubtful subject lines like ‘I miss you’ and spelling and grammar errors. They request you to click links in order to get backdoor entry to your computer via malware and/or ask you to return important information to them. We have discussed ways to prevent phishing here.
Identity thieves often operate sites selling merchandise which never reaches and are only in place to acquire sensitive information. Be especially wary of these transactions during the Holiday season. This is the time when stressed out shoppers are not too careful about giving out information while buying Holiday gifts. Knowing that credit card frauds and scams can happen and guarding against it can help prevent a lot of hassles.