Losing your credit card or having someone use your personal details for fraudulent means can be considered as a nightmare for most people. After all, there is nothing as perplexing and confounding as going to sleep
at night, only to wake up to see that you have racked up humongous debts overnight. Here’s how you can prevent it from happening to you.
What is credit card fraud?
FindLaw.com, a part of Thomson Reuters, defines credit card fraud as “a form of identity theft that involves an unauthorized taking of another’s credit card information for the purpose of charging purchases to the account or removing funds from it.” Surprisingly, a lot of people fall for credit card frauds. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns Americans to safeguard their credit or debit card information vigilantly.
Now, there are a number of ways through which people can be victimized by this kind of fraud. It can happen in such a casual manner, such as when you throw out your bills and fraudulent people would get your information from the bills to make purchases in your account. Likewise, it can be a result of a massive hack, such as if a credible website is cracked open by hackers
and your credit card information is available to anyone who has access to the data.
The following are more common ways through how people are victimized by credit card frauds:
Being inattentive when paying with your card
How many times have you gone out to eat and you just handed the server your credit card at the end of the meal? A server or a store clerk can easily take photos of your credit card and use it to make purchases using your details. You can ask your server if you can follow them to the terminal where you can swipe the card. While it may come off as being paranoid to some, it is better to be cautious than to be victimized. Also, avoid using your credit card in unfamiliar places, such as when you are abroad in a small store.
In this instance, it would be better to use cash than to pay with your card. Another common way through how this is executed is when you are harried while paying. The chances that you would leave your credit card in the store are very high if you are not paying attention. As such, make sure that you leave every store with your credit card, particularly if you used it to pay for your purchases.
Lastly, there are cases wherein skimmers are placed over terminals so that your information would be copied even when you swiped the card yourself. To ensure that the terminal doesn’t have a skimmer, try to see if it looks as normal as possible. Terminals with skimmers tend to be bulkier and bigger. If you’re purchasing in an unfamiliar store, just use cash if you have it on you.
We’ve seen multiple cases wherein people are swindled into giving their credit card information to other people they haven’t met before, such as telemarketers and agents. What usually happens is that they are given an insane offer they cannot resist, such as a Caribbean cruise. Then, the victims would be asked to give their credit card information for verification purposes and to supposedly reserve their slots.
Unsurprisingly, these people would then eventually find out that their information was used to make fraudulent transactions. Older adults are prone to this kind of fraud, particularly those who live alone. Since many of them are unfamiliar with how these frauds progress, they are then susceptible to being tricked that they won something only when it turns out that they didn’t. If you have parents or older relatives who are living alone, warn them against giving out their information to strangers.
Losing your cards
When people lose their wallets, this lost is often punctuated by the loss of multiple credit cards. To avoid this, try to bring only one credit card when you go out. You can also opt to separate your credit cards to minimize the loss when it happens.Likewise, many credit card companies offer to give you a second card with a smaller credit limit. If you use this card when you are making purchases, then the amount of money that the fraudsters could get would be limited. There are also other ways through which people are swindled by credit card frauds.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways through which you can prevent it from happening in the first place. We mentioned leaving your other cards at home or using a card with a small credit limit when making purchases to unverified stores. You can also do the following to minimize your chances of being victimized:
Be Vigilant about your bills
Check and double check your credit card bills and ensure that you made every single transaction. If there is a single discrepancy with your bill, report it to your credit card issuer immediately. Likewise, try to save your receipts so that you have proof of your purchases. If you’re keeping a close eye on your bills, then you would immediately see if there is a transaction that you did not make.
Report loss and fraud
Once you notice that there is a discrepancy in your account or if you have lost your card, contact your credit card issuer immediately and report it. The FTC says that once you report a lost credit card, “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.” While there is a different process for accounts that were hacked or used to make fraudulent transactions, the sooner that you catch it, the better it would be for you. When your credit card information is compromised, immediately ask for an investigation and for that account to be closed down.
Trust only secure websites
As much as possible, transact online with reputable websites – most of these sites have trust seals such as norton, mcaffee secure, etc. WIth Google’s preference for secure websites, majority of websites employ SSL or HTTPS. This ensure your transaction is encrypted and secure. If you’re using a chrome browser, it should show a secure sign (and a padlock icon) to let you know it’s safe to proceed with the purchase, signup, etc.
Being victimized by credit card fraud can be quite traumatic. At least with these tips, you would be able to protect yourself against being another statistic.