The current information age has inspired many fraudsters and thieves to move from street theft to cyber theft. There is a lower risk when it comes to stealing over the internet although more skills are required. Fortunately, you can protect yourself from Identity Theft and from being a victim of Credit Card Fraud. You can learn more about Credit Card Fraud, its Types and categories in the following post.
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What do Statistics Say?
A survey by Harris Poll shows that approximately 60 million Americans have, in one time, fallen victims of Identity Theft. Although you may argue that Identity theft is not synonymous to Credit Card Fraud, I would counter your argument with the fact that in order to use your credit card, I would have to steal your identity. I explained in a series of blogs how to steal one’s identity and use it to card other people’s credit cards.
Building your Defense
Remember every Credit Card Thief wakes up in the morning with hopes to gain access to your card. With these simple steps, however, you can remain a step ahead of them by keeping these 10 Easy Ways to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud.
1. Hide your Cards and Card Info
Keep your cards where they cannot be seen, snatched or stolen by credit card thieves. Your card may not be physically stolen but the information it carries may be stolen and used as I explained in the series of blogs on how to steal one’s identity. To hide your cards safely, do the following:
Keep Cards in a wallet or Purse
Store your cards in a wallet or purse that cannot be stolen easily. For example, a small purse that can be securely stored close to your body.
Do not Carry all cards in one wallet
Carry the cards you need and keep the rest at home. Avoid carrying all cards in one purse or wallet. In case the purse is stolen, one card will only be compromised while the others will be safely stored at home.
Hide Card Info when using your card
I have seen lots of people hold cards in a way that I can steal their info if I was a card thief. I can easily take a picture and gain access to their Card Numbers, CVV, Expiring Date and Account Holder’s Name. What else do I need to Shop online with the card?
Request to swipe your cards
Although not very common, some cashiers often steal card info. There was a trending video where a customer busted a Starbucks Cashier stealing her card details. I often ask the cashier to allow me to swipe the card and enter my pin on my own so as to prevent any possibilities of losing my card info.
2. Do not sign Blank Credit Card Receipts and Checkbooks
When you are given a credit card receipt, check the amount before signing. Do not sign any blank receipts or write $0 (Zero) before signing. Note that I write both the digit and word because some scammers my find a way to manipulate the digits. Do not sign a blank checkbook despite the temptation to have them ready for future use.
3. Destroy anything with credit card number in it.
Some documents, such as bank statements and credit card billing statements, may have credit card number in them. Before throwing them into the trash, erase the number with a permanent marker or shred the document. Some credit card thieves are dumpster divers. They search trash bags for these statements.
4. Do not give your Card Number and Financial Details to Anyone
I remember one way to fish for a credit card number and other details by calling the card owner. Using a service, such as spooftel, a thief can call you and the number that would appear on your phone is that of your bank. Your bank may often ask for your card number but will not ask for other card details like cvv, expiring date and other financial information. When you receive such a call, do not give any of these details, not even the card number. Only give your card number on calls you initiate if the bank asks you for verification purposes. Always be sure you are calling your bank, for instance if you receive a voice mail or message to contact your bank, do not use the number left on your voicemail instead call the number printed at the back of your card.
5. Be vigilant when you go online
There are so many loopholes online that can leak your financial information. While browsing the internet or reading mails, keep the following tips at hand.
Reduce or Avoid using Credit Cards for online Payments
When purchasing products or services online, reduce or avoid using credit cards. It is safer to use third party payment services, such as PayPal. These payment platforms complete the payment on your behalf without exposing your credit card details to the seller. I pay most of my online purchases and subscriptions using PayPal. I did set up PayPal 2FA to also protect my PayPal account from cyber thieves. You can learn how to setup 2FA in this blog; PayPal Two Factor Authentication (2FA).
Do not Click Suspicious Emails
In the PayPal 2FA tutorial above, I mentioned how to identify suspicious emails. As much as possible, avoid clicking links that appear in emails asking you anything to do with your financial information. Some will mention that there is suspicious activity involving your credit card and give you a link to follow in order to secure your card. Do not follow these links even if they look legitimate, instead, call the bank using the number printed at the back of your card and verify whether there was a suspicious activity.
Have an Antivirus in Place
This is another important line of defense. Every time I click a suspicious link, my antivirus blocks it and warns me. It also warns me and blocks all possible malware that comes with my downloads. Use a genuine antivirus because cracked versions may not work as expected.
6. Review your Billing Statement Monthly
People tend to throw away their Billing Statements without reviewing them. Remember if your card is used, the charge will show in the statement. Review the billing statement and report any unauthorized charges to your credit card provider no matter how small the charge is. Additionally, check your card for small deposits or charges from payment partners, like PayPal, Venmo and Skrill. These companies often charge or deposit small amounts of less than $1 to verify your card. If you see these charges, report them since someone might be trying to verify their PayPal accounts with your card.
7. Report Lost or Stolen Credit Cards Immediately
When your card is lost or stolen, call the bank immediately no matter what time of day or night it is. It is good practice to have your bank contact number saved in your phone book. Also call the bank when unauthorized charge shows on your credit card.
8. Create Strong Passwords for Online Accounts
For online Banking accounts, follow the password strength recommendations to create strong passwords. Avoid writing passwords in your diary. Additionally, avoid using same password for every service you sign up for. Change your password from time to time and avoid reusing old passwords.
9. Check for Skimmers on ATMs and Card Stations
Skimmers are card readers used to capture and store your card info. Check the ATM and gas station before inserting your card. If the part where the card is inserted appears to be loose, when you give it a light shake, do not use your card. If you find a skimmer, notify the bank or security personnel, such as, the police. Also cover the keypad when typing your password and always check the keypad for loose overlaying keypad which could be used to capture your pin.
10. Enable Other Security Measures
Two Factor Authentication or One time Password
Every time I pay for something with my card, I have to login to my banking app and approve the payment within the first five minutes of payment otherwise the charge would not go through. Enabling this can save you from scammers who may already have your card number. If you bank offers a similar service, please enable it so that your card cannot be used unless you approve. You can call your bank to find out if they offer this option.
Instead of waiting for a month to receive your credit report and check for unauthorized charges, it is better to enable instant notifications. Every time I buy something using my card, I get a notification by text and through my email. This means you will be notified of any activities related to your credit. Be aware a scammer can email you with notifications that have phishing links, that is why I previously warned you never to click any links that come with the notifications, instead call your bank.
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