You guard your credit cards, keep them safe and never share your information with others. Right?
If you don’t take these basic measures to protect yourself from credit card fraud, you should start doing them now.
The bad news here is that even the most prudent credit card holders are at risk. With all the innovation and advances in technology we’re experiencing today, hackers are always coming up with new ways to steal your information. With this in mind, it’s even more important that you make sure to use even the most basic tactics to protect yourself.
Here are 5 tips to help you avoid credit card fraud and keep your information safe.
- Never share your credit card information through email.
Email wasn’t built for confidentiality.
The fact that all your emails are filed away somewhere should be abundantly obvious ever since the last presidential election in the US.
“So when you share sensitive information, like credit card numbers, using email, you’re essentially creating a permanent record of that information for cleaver hackers to discover if they happen to get access to them,” says John Rampton, the founder of Due and Calendar.
Also, programs like keyloggers and other malware can potentially track your keystrokes and deliver that information directly to hackers.
If you must send credit card information via email, make sure that you use a secure server on a trusted computer that only you use. Think like a hacker before you do anything. If you see any reason to doubt the security of your messages, don’t do it.
- Protect your pin number.
Pin numbers are essentially the last line of defence for you when it comes to credit card fraud. It’s not uncommon to misplace or lose cards and you could end up going days without even realizing they’re gone.
“The pin number will help reduce the chances that your card can be used by someone who happens to come across your card after you’ve lost it,” says Deep Patel, the founder of Owlmetrics. “To prevent this from failing as a safeguard, you should never write your pin on your card.”
In addition to committing your pin number to memory rather than writing it down, you should also try to make it unlikely that the number can be guessed. This means you should avoid using things like birthdays and parts of your social security number. Finally, if you have multiple cards, it’s good practice to use different pins for each.
- Write “SEE IDENTIFICATION” on the back of your card.
Did you know that it’s actually illegal for merchants to require you to show your ID as a stipulation for accepting credit card payments? Most major credit card companies outright ban the practice, and others simply look down on it.
Visa and Mastercard both ask that you contact them to report it if a merchant asks you, and Discover and American Express allow it, but don’t encourage it.
So, why should you write “SEE ID” on your card? Well, even if the practice isn’t encouraged by card issuers, most merchants (and thieves for that matter) don’t know this. Just having that phrase written on your card means that if your cards ever end up in the wrong hands, the perpetrator will be less likely to take the risk of bringing your card through the checkout line.
This practice might not be useful for online purchases and merchants might not be encouraged to honor your written request, but it’s a simple way to decrease the risk of credit card fraud for consumers.
- Carefully review your monthly statements.
“Make sure your statements for each credit card each month and make it a routine to review them for errors and evidence of fraud,” says Mike Clum, who runs an agency for Facebook advertising. Weather you get paperless statements or if they come in the mail, this is a great way to stay on track with your finances as well as prevent fraud.
Match up your transactions to receipts as often as possible and ensure that you’re not getting charged for things you never bought. This could be an error on the card issuer’s part or it could be evidence of fraud.
Most issuers today have security measures in place that detect and flag any purchases that don’t seem normal based on things like location and past purchases. When they detect these things, the bank will often decline the transaction and call you. If you ever receive one of these calls the first thing you should do (after canceling your card) is check your statements for any additional issues.
Stay on top of your statements and you’re much more likely to save money and detect fraud before it’s too late. Never leave it entirely up to the bank to catch these instances and you’ll be in good shape.
- Watch out for card skimmers at the gas pump and ATM.
It’s not enough to simply keep your cards on you at all times. Today, you have increased risk of becoming the victim of credit card fraud by simply using your cards. This is because of devices called card skimmers.
Credit card skimmers are pieces of hardware that thieves will place over or altogether swap with the normal devices that you insert your card into or swipe your card with. Gas pumps and ATM’s are the typical places where people will place these devices any they can be virtually identical to the legitimate scanners.
Since these devices are designed to be put in place and collected later by the bad guys once they’ve collected a batch of credit card information, you can usually spot them if you take a minute to try.
There’s no failsafe measure to use for protecting yourself from card skimmers, but inspect the card reader for any abnormalities before swiping and you’ll be less likely to fall for them. In addition to this, pay attention to what the other readers look like that are nearby at gas pumps. If you notice any discrepancies between the readers, don’t swipe your card.
You can’t completely be sure that you’re protected from these devices, but you can keep your eyes open and check before you swipe. Doing this will drastically decrease your chances of falling victim to credit card fraud.