With the increasing popularity of digital wallets (think Apple Pay), contactless and NFC payments, and electronic banking, we’re steadily moving toward a cashless economy. But with most of our purchases, whether online or in-store, done using a credit or debit card, we are also more at risk of exposure to credit card fraud.
What is credit card fraud?
Credit card fraud happens whenever an unauthorized purchase is made on a credit card. There are many ways that a credit card information can be stolen, all of them can be classified into two categories. The first involves a credit card that you own being compromised and used illegally. The second occurs through identity theft — when someone opens a new credit card in your name without your authorization.
With the advent of credit cards with chips, the added layer of security has made cards more secure. However, this has just caused scammers to move more towards credit card fraud through identity theft. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), in 2018 there were almost three million identity theft and fraud reports made. Of those reports, 40% were linked to credit card fraud. The III goes on to report that in 2018, consumers reported $1.48 billion dollars in losses related to fraud complaints.
Those numbers may seem alarming, but there is hope. Credit card fraud doesn’t have to happen to you. Here are eight things you can do to keep your accounts safe.
The first step to protect against credit card fraud is to keep your personal information safe. Make sure you keep your pin numbers in a secure place. To add an extra layer of security with your pins, opt in to a two-factor or multifactor authentication when possible. This involves using a pin and a password or a biometric measure (fingerprint, eye scan, voice print) to access your account information.
Another way to safeguard your personal information is being careful with your credit card statements. If you want to keep your statements, make sure they are in a secure place. Once you are ready to dispose of them, make sure the information on the statements is obscured. A good way to do this is to shred the statements before putting them in the trash.
One last precaution you can take is to keep your account information in different places. If you save all of your account information in one place, it will be much easier for everything to be compromised at once.
2. Be careful when giving out your credit card information
If you receive a request by email or phone for your credit card information, proceed with caution. Most credit card issuers have an account hub through which secure messages are delivered. If you receive an email requesting information, check your account to see if a message is there as well. If not, avoid opening or responding to that email and call your card issuer instead. Your card issuer can confirm if the message is authentic.
If you receive a phone call with a request for your credit card information and you’re unsure whether the call is authentic, simply hang up and call back using the listed number for the company. If the call is authentic, the agent you speak with will be able to confirm that.
3. Review card statements
Always look through your card statements when they arrive. Make sure that all the transactions listed are ones that you have actually made. If you keep receipts for your credit card purchases, check them against the charges listed. If you see a charge that is unfamiliar, report it to your card issuer immediately. Keep tabs on your account by logging into your account on a weekly or biweekly basis. You can also set up alerts so that you’ll be notified whenever a transaction occurs.
4. Report lost or stolen cards
If you lose your card or suspect that it has been stolen, report it immediately by calling your issuer. The issuer can put a temporary block on the account until you can confirm that the card is no longer in your possession. If you find your card, the block can be lifted with a phone call. If you don’t find the card, let your issuer know so that they can cancel the card and issue a new one.
Also make sure that you keep an eye out for new cards that are sent through the mail. If you’ve received notification that a card is on the way and it hasn’t arrived within a week, let your issuer know. It may have been lost or delayed in the mail, but it’s also possible that someone has taken it. Whatever the reason the card has gone missing, let the card company know so that it can be cancelled and reissued.
5. Be safe online
Many of us do our shopping online without much thought, however there are certain security signs you should be looking for. First, check to see if a site is secure by looking in the address bar. You should see a closed lock and the address should begin with “https”. Another way vendors offer more security for online purchases is by using 3DS. If 3DS is in place, you will be taken to your credit card issuer’s hub to complete your purchase to take advantage of their security measures.
When shopping online it is also important to avoid clickbait links, pop-up surveys and polls. These links may take you to an unsecured site where your purchase can be compromised. If the site seems to be bouncing you between a lot of pages and links, it is probably best to make the purchase elsewhere.
Once you’re done making your purchase, go in and clear the computer cache and the browser history. This will assure that there is no trail of the purchase information left behind.
6. Create strong passwords
Usually when we create passwords for our accounts we are looking for something memorable. The difficulty with memorable passwords is that they often contain personal information that can easily be compromised. When coming up with a password, think strong instead of convenient. If you struggle to remember your password, you can use a password service like LastPass or DashLane to help you.
7. Lock your phone
These days, many people use their phones as a payment device. With Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay making it easier to pay by phone, it is even more important to keep your phone secure. Have a lock screen with a difficult passcode. Or if possible, use a fingerprint activated passcode or some other biometric. And set your screen to lock after 30 seconds of inactivity. It may be a hassle to have to login in with more frequency, but it will make it more difficult for someone else to get into your phone if it is lost or stolen.
8. Keep tabs on your credit report
Credit report monitoring is a great way to keep tabs on what’s happening with all of your credit accounts in one place, you can take advantage of Bankrate’s credit report and monitoring tool to get started. Being able to quickly identify fraud and taking the right steps when reporting credit card fraud can help minimize any losses and possibly avoid it all together.