Credit card fraud happens to people every day. While you can’t always prevent it from happening, you can play a critical role in protecting your cards and card numbers. Safeguarding your debit and credit cards like you would do with cash is one common sense way to protect yourself from would-be thieves. Read these safety tips and learn simple, but effective, ways to guard your credit/debit card information.
How Fraud Happens
The most common form of debit/credit card fraud results from theft, whereby your actual card is stolen and then used to buy things. Thieves may also search the trash for account statements (low-tech theft) or hack into a retail or bank website (high-tech theft) where your card number can be stolen, only to be sold or shared. Then there is the less-than-honest retail associate that copies your card information or swipes your card with a skimmer. You may even get a call from someone offering you the deal of a lifetime such as a cheap vacation, but in order to receive the deal they need your account information at that very moment. The next thing you know, unknown charges appear on your account and the person or company is nowhere to be found. This type of thievery gives new meaning to the phrase, “Buy now, pay later.”
What You Can Do To Prevent Fraud
You are your best chance at preventing debit/credit card fraud. By practicing a few fraud protection practices, you can help keep your cards and accounts safe and secure.
- Record your account numbers, expiration dates and contact information for each card and store the information in a secure location.
- Carry only the card(s) you plan to use rather than your entire wallet. Consider carrying your card(s) separately from your wallet altogether.
- Conceal cards, statements and receipts with account information, whether at home or the office.
- Never loan your actual card or give out your account numbers; not even to your own children. There are safer alternatives like TDECU’s family of credit cards.
- Only give your card information to reputable companies you have contacted or that you have done business with before. Try searching the Better Business Bureau website to learn more about a company’s reputation.
- Keep your eyes on your card during retail transactions and put your card back where it belongs before you leave.
- Never sign a receipt void of a description of services rendered. If this happens draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
- Reconcile your statements and purchases: Save receipts to compare them to your monthly statement(s). Open your statement(s) upon receipt or check your online statements as soon as they are ready for review.
- Report suspicious charges to the card issuer and follow their instructions.
- Shred expired receipts, statements and cards when you no longer need them.
- If you plan to travel, it is good practice to notify the card issuer.
What Happens When Fraud Occurs
In the event fraud occurs, swift action on your part can limit your losses by limiting your liability. Refer back to your recorded accounts list you stored in a secure place and notify the card issuer(s) of all compromised cards. You will need to provide information about each fraudulent use so each transaction can be investigated. Even after reporting fraud, you will want to keep a close watch on your account activity up to the point you reported the incident to ensure all charges are those you made.
Most card issuers limit your liability for fraudulent purchases. With others your maximum loss can vary based on how quickly the fraud is reported. Be sure to read your credit card issuer’s fraud policies. Bottom line is this: A strong offense is your best defense against debit/credit card fraud. Block any attempts to steal your personal account information by putting these tips into practice.