Credit card fraud is becoming a regular, every day occurrence. Banks and credit card companies have departments set up specifically to watch out for suspicious transactions and recovery of fraudulent charges.
While hackers have gotten very smart in recent years, there are some precautions you can take to lower your chances of being ripped off.
- Everyone has access to one FREE credit report per year, and it is available through each of the three reporting entities: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Or, you can go to www.freecreditreport.com. Tip: Request one report at a time – one in January from one credit bureau, one in May, and one in September (all free, since you get one from each!).
- Whenever you hand over a card to a cashier or waitress, make sure it's not out of your sight for more than normal amount of time – don't be afraid to ask questions!
- Be sure to reconcile your credit card statement monthly, or set up an online account so you can check more frequently.
- Set up "alerts" with your online accounts so that you are alerted via email or text message if a transaction is over a pre-designated amount.
- Never provide personal information on an unsecured website.
- If you receive an email from your bank asking for you to confirm your information, don't provide it. Call the customer service number instead. Many hackers create legitimate-looking emails with bank logos.
- Sign your credit or debit card as soon as you receive it.
- Don't carry unused credit cards – leave them at home in a secure location.
- If using a debit card, enter your pin discreetly so that others can't see.
- Shred bank/credit card statements; don't just throw them in the trash.
- Keep a record of all of your account numbers in a secure location.
- Notify your bank or credit card company in advance of a move.
- Don't write your account number on an order slip that is to be mailed back to the company.
- Don't give out your SSN unless you initiated the call and know the company is reputable.
- Don't lend our your debit or credit card – if you do, make sure you are present and conduct the actual transaction.
- Create secure passwords – did you know that some of the most common but worst passwords are "password", "123456", or even "abc123"? There are hackers out there who can access your account information pretty easily unless you have a secure password. Here are some tips to make your account more secure: 1) Don't have a "generic" password for each type of account you have. 2) Don't use one word out of the dictionary, your password must have a combination of letters and numbers to be strong. 3) Try using a combination of lower case and upper case letters in your password, or try inserting a number in the place of a letter (5arah – 5 in place of the S). 4) Try the Password Checker on Microsoft's website, click HERE – this site will tell you how strong your password is as well as tips to make them more secure.
What if you are a victim?
- Call your bank or credit card company immediately. Most companies have support 24/7.
- The Federal Trade Commission has information on their site about what you should do, how much you can be held liable for and more.
- Fortunately, credit card companies know that this is a large problem in our country and you will not be held liable for charges made using a fraudulent account.
- A seven year alert can be placed with the three credit reporting bureaus so that no one can open an account in your name.
Other Resources:Pin It