Do you break out in a cold sweat at the thought of someone stealing your credit card information? If so, you’re not alone. Credit card fraud is a scary thing, and it’s natural to worry that a thief might threaten your financial security and credit score.
What you should know is that credit card fraud detection and fraud prevention don’t require you to pay for monitoring service. Taking a few practical steps to safeguard your information can help minimize the chances you’ll be a victim of fraud – and protect you if someone does take your information. Here are six tips that can help.
#1: Be Careful Giving Out Your Card Information
The first thing you can do to prevent fraud is to apply common sense when giving out your credit card number. Never give out your card information on the phone unless you initiated the call and you know that you’re speaking to a reputable company.
Likewise, don’t make purchases online unless the site in question uses HTTPS encryption. Google Chrome now displays a green lock icon next to secure sites. If you don’t see the lock, don’t make the purchase.
#2: Use Common Sense with Receipts
Never sign a blank receipt, even if it’s given to you by a friend or acquaintance. If the receipt falls into the wrong hands, you could end up with a big charge you didn’t authorize.
Likewise, if there’s blank space above the total on a receipt, draw a line through them. You don’t want to give someone dishonest an opportunity to add charges to the receipt after the fact.
Always get a printed receipt for every transaction. Save your receipts so you can compare them with your bill when you get it.
#3: Follow Financial News and Breach Alerts
It’s not uncommon for large retailers to be the target of cyber attacks and security breaches. If you hear that a retailer has been the victim of such a breach, don’t wait for them to notify you that your information was compromised.
Instead, immediately log into your account and look for any suspicious activity. Call your card holder and request a new card. If you don’t want a new card, you can ask them to place a fraud alert on your account.
#4: Know How to Identify Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are still common. Any time you get an email claiming to be from a financial institution, you should treat it with skepticism and use common-sense precautions.
Some of the warning signs of phishing scams are:
- Use of a different greeting than the one your financial institution usually uses – most companies will use your name, so an email that says “Dear Valued Customer” should be viewed with suspicion.
- Never click on a link in an email unless you’re sure you know where it will take you. One common scam is to include a link that mimics a financial institution’s website. You can find out by hovering your house over the link. Look at the lower left-hand corner of your screen to see where the link leads – and if you don’t recognize it, don’t click it.
- If you’re unsure about an email, you can always navigate to your card issuer’s site and log in the way you usually do. No legitimate company will ask you to confirm a PIN or anything else via an email.
If you do get a phishing email, make sure to report it to your email provider.
#5: Never Pay Your Bill without Checking It
When you get your credit card bill, open it immediately and compare it to your saved receipts. If you have paperless billing, log in to your account and check it there.
You should notify the card issuer immediately if you notice any suspicious or unauthorized activity. That way, you won’t be liable for the charges since most financial institutions limit customer liability to $50.
#6: Check Your Credit Report Regularly
You can get one free credit report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. If you sign up for a credit monitoring service, you can get additional reports for a fee.
Review your reports thoroughly and make note of any discrepancies or unexpected entries. You’ll need to call the credit bureau to get any inaccurate information removed. Keep in mind that you can put a fraud alert on your credit report too – and you should do so if you suspect your information has been compromised.
Credit card fraud detection and prevention is mostly a matter of common sense. If you’re careful with your credit card and take the simple precautions we’ve outlined here, you’ll minimize your losses and catch any potential breaches early.
All of Addition Financial’s Visa credit cards are secured with Visa’s Zero Liability fraud protection as well as Visa purchase alerts. You’ll get real-time alerts whenever a purchase meets the criteria you selected during enrollment – whether that’s reaching a purchase amount threshold, international purchases or purchases made on the internet or over the phone. Learn more about the security measures of our Visa credit cards and how to apply here.