Credit card fraud takes place every day in a variety of ways. You can’t always prevent it from happening, but you can make it tougher for someone to get hold of your cards and card numbers. The more hurdles you create between fraudsters and your funds, the better. Below is some information to help you better understand credit card fraud and tips on how to lower your chances of it happening to you.
How does credit card fraud happen?
Theft, the most obvious form of credit card fraud, can happen in a variety of ways, from dumpster diving to high-tech hacking. A thief might go through the trash to find billing statements and then use your account information to purchase things. A retail or bank website might get hacked, and your card number could be stolen and shared. Or maybe a dishonest cashier takes a photo of your credit card and uses your account to buy items or create another account. The next thing you know, charges you didn’t make are on your statement and you are frantically calling your card issuer to let them know it wasn’t you who made that payment. Let’s face it, it’s all around us and we hear about it every day. So how can we be proactive and keep our information safe?
1.Use cards with EMV
EMV chip technology, now the standard in Europe and many other parts of the world, is expanding quickly in the United States. You’ve probably seen this by now in large retail stores, or maybe you’ve already converted to the new form of payment. EMV chips reduce fraud with a technique called tokenization. Tokenization means that every time you pay with an EMV card in person, the unique information that identifies the card changes. So card information copied from one transaction can’t be reused. When you swipe a traditional magnetic stripe card, the information is the same with each transaction. Data thieves who gain access to that information can create a duplicate of your card and use it just about anywhere, a process known as counterfeit fraud.
Actively monitoring your transaction records and credit score is one of the most effective ways to identify and prevent fraud. At a minimum, you should review your credit and debit card statements monthly and check your credit report annually. Federal law requires each of the three nationwide credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to provide one free credit report per year. You can visit annualcreditreport.com to receive this free report. You can also purchase credit-monitoring services from these bureaus that will alert you if there is a change to your credit history.
3. Don’t give information over the phone (unless you made the call)
If you made the phone call, you know who you’re dealing with – otherwise, the caller may be misrepresenting himself so he can get your account number and use it. If you’ve never done business with them before, do an online search first for reviews or complaints. If you are unsure or have a bad vibe about a company/website, don’t do it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, never give this information in an email either.
4. Keep your cards in a safe location
Treat your credit cards the same as you would cash, and make sure you know where they are at all times. You might also try carrying your cards separately from your wallet. That way if your wallet is stolen, the thief doesn’t have everything.
5. Report a lost or stolen credit card
Call the card issuer as soon as you realize your card has been lost or stolen. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour service to help with this. Once you report the loss or theft, the law says you have no additional responsibility for charges you didn’t make; in any case, your liability for each card lost or stolen is $50. If you suspect that the card was used fraudulently, you may have to sign a statement under oath that you didn’t make the purchases in question.
6. Have your bills sent to you electronically
It’s easy to throw away items that contain personal information without even thinking about it. But as we mentioned before, someone looking for this information would have no problem digging through the garbage to find an account number on a discarded bill.
Paper bills are a ready target for thieves. By having more of your bills and other sensitive information such as account statements sent to you electronically, you reduce the likelihood that you’ll throw something away that contains your personal information.
If you prefer to receive paper statements, make sure to shred them prior to discarding. Shredding documents is one of the best ways to protect yourself against identity theft and fraud. By shredding all documents that contain any personal information (including your address, telephone numbers and other, more sensitive data), you make it a lot harder for someone to find any sort of useful information to use against you.
Until Next Time,