How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud
Posted on October 23, 2012 by Michael Martin Leaño
You’ve seen it in the news—people getting scammed through credit card fraud—and you probably think it won’t happen to you. Guess what? It can, especially if you’re not careful. To avoid credit card fraud, here are a few tips to make it much tougher for thieves to get your card or card information.
Tip #1: Protect your credit card(s)
See to it that you keep your card safe at all times. Always keep your cards close to your body, preferably in a place where it can’t be easily stolen. Thieves know cards are typically in wallets so place them in a separate, concealed place like a pouch or business card holder.
When shopping, make sure your card is in your view at all times when performing a transaction because it may be skimmed when you’re not looking. If you’re using your credit card at an ATM (for an advance), be alert for people acting suspiciously—they may be watching you. Always stand close to the cash machine and cover the keypad to prevent anyone from seeing your PIN.
Tip #2: Never give out credit card information
Don’t give out your card information to anyone. Scammers have been known to initiate calls pretending they’re from your credit card company or some other establishment and try to trick people to give their credit card number. If you must give information, make sure they’re on calls that you initiate to your card issuer’s customer service hotline and never on calls you received.
Tip #3: Be careful when shopping online
The same goes with e-mail: never click links from suspicious e-mails pretending to be your credit card issuer, bank, or whatever other company, even if they seem legit. It might be a phishing scam trying to get your card information.
If you plan to shop online using your credit card, make sure you do it only in trusted sites, and even then, see to it that the site you’re looking at is the actual website before you enter your credit card information. Why? It might just be a convincing lookalike.
Tip #4: Shred your credit card records
Don’t just throw your old statements and expired credit cards into the rubbish bin; shred them to prevent people from sifting through your trash and getting your information. And when you do shred them, put the pieces in separate trash bags. You might be surprised—there are many clever and patient scammers out there.
Tip #5: Never sign blank credit card receipts
Credit card receipts can sometimes be dangerous. If you see one that has blank spaces, write zeroes on the spaces to prevent anyone from adding charges. You can also draw a line through the spaces. Remember to check the amount on your credit card receipt before signing it; the person swiping the card may have placed an additional charge.
Tip #6: Report your missing credit card ASAP
Once you find out that your credit card is lost or stolen, make sure that you report it to the card company immediately so that you won’t have to pay for any fraudulent purchases. Memorise your card issuer’s customer service hotline so that you can still make the call even without the card.
Tip #7: Review your statements every month
Assessing the charges listed on your statement every month lets you sniff out fraudulent charges. If you do see a charge you know you didn’t make, make sure you report it regardless of the size.
Tip #8: Educate yourself on how cards are stolen
Remember that prevention is better than cure. Don’t wait until fraud happens—educate yourself so that you can thwart any attempts to steal your credit card. Here are some of the tricks that card fraudsters use:
- Copy the data on your card's magnetic stripe through a skimmer. These skimmers can be used in many places, including gas pumps or even restaurants.
- Go through your trash or mailbox to get your financial information.
- Send sham e-mails to phish for your card information.
- Hack company databases to steal credit card information.