Simple Steps To Avoid Falling Victim To Credit Card Fraud

Oct 4, 2016

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Your credit card may offer a wide range of perks — cash-back bonus opportunities, travel rewards points, car rental insurance coverage and more. However, paying with plastic also comes with the potential for one big downside: fraud.

According to recent research from electronic payment company ACI Worldwide, nearly 33 percent of consumers have experienced card fraud within the past five years. Wait, you might say, I already received a new EMV chip card from my bank, so I’m good to go. Unfortunately, that chip isn’t a magical solution to the problem. As hackers develop more sophisticated ways to steal valuable data, safeguarding your confidential financial information should be a top priority. Consider these tips to help keep your card earning rewards points while keeping the risks of being compromised low.

Protect Your Phone With a Password

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Protect yourself by adding a password to your phone. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Entering in a four-digit code may seem like a hassle each time you need to respond to a message or scroll through your Instagram feed, but this basic safeguard will be your best friend in the worst-case scenario that you misplace your phone. Without a password, anyone who finds it is just a few clicks away from your banking app and the credit card statements sitting in your inbox.

Avoid Open Wi-Fi Networks

From hotel lobbies to coffeeshops, most businesses offer free Wi-Fi to help customers stay connected. While complimentary Wi-Fi is convenient for your own routine, it’s also equally convenient for tech-savvy hackers who may be sitting at the next table. They can easily connect to the network and uncover a treasure trove of information — your credit card number, your usernames and passwords and other valuable data. Simple rule: If you’re transmitting any financial information, never use an open, easily hackable network.

Arrange Account Alerts

Your bank understands your purchasing patterns — where you live, where you shop, how much you typically spend per transaction and plenty of other lessons about your personal finance behavior. This knowledge can be a powerful force in fighting credit card fraud, and you can help your bank beat hackers by programming customized alerts for any suspicious activity. For example, you can ask your bank to flag any purchase that crosses a certain threshold.

Buy a Shredder

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

You may be accustomed to doing almost all your money management via apps, email and other paperless platforms, but you still have the burden of physical receipts and monthly account statements sitting in a pile in your office. This paper trail is a goldmine for old-school thieves who are willing to get down and dirty to find your data: the dumpster-diving criminals. To avoid letting your trash be recycled into a fraud attack, buy a shredder, and be religious in your efforts to destroy all your data into tiny pieces that can’t be put back together in a puzzle that reveals your credit card information.

Monitor Your Daily Activity

Don’t just count on your bank’s technology to recognize signs of trouble, though. You’re the real expert when it comes to your transaction history, and you can proactively review your account activity for any purchases you don’t recognize. There’s no need to wait for the monthly statement to arrive, either. When you’re logging in to your Facebook account or your email each day of the week, take an extra five minutes to log into your online banking portfolio — from a secure connection, of course — and make sure that you’re the only one spending your money.

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.

What steps do you take to avoid credit card fraud?

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