July 22, 2022

How to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud

Valerie Mellema
Fortune 500 Editorial Contributor

In today’s digital world, credit card fraud and related prevention measures are changing the way that people secure their money. Many people worry about the risk of credit card fraud online and the increase of scammers looking to catch unsuspecting people off guard is no help. So, what can you do to protect yourself from credit card fraud? In this article, we’ll look at some of the best practices for securing your finances and solidifying your privacy.

Stop Saving Payment Information

Sure, it’s convenient to have instant access to your debit and credit cards when you’re shopping or ordering food on your favorite sites and apps. However, it’s also one of the single-most common ways that fraudsters steal information. If your data is stored on your smartphone, for example, it’s also stored in the cloud. That means that even with the best security protocols, there’s still a risk that hackers and scammers could get their hands on your card numbers, security codes, and even bank accounts. 

Review Your Bill Each Month

Too many people just pay their credit card bills and move on. They don’t look at the itemized statement because they don’t see anything unseemly, or worse they don’t even look at the statement and have the payment auto-drafted from their account. This is a prime opportunity for someone to steal your financial information and spend a small fortune before you even realize anything’s going on. Pay attention to every single transaction on every single bill. Your diligence will pay off. 

Stop Handing Your Card to Anyone with a Card Reader

Digital transactions have become the norm today. Several businesses have shifted toward cashless operations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in digital payment options and solutions. The problem here is that anyone can get a card reader to accept payments from platforms like Square and others. By nature, we trust people who are “selling” products or services and assume that if they have a card reader, it must be legit. But what if it’s not? Sometimes, the convenience just isn’t worth the risk. 

If you find businesses that you must pay with some form of digital payment, choose a single card and only use that one. Make payments in incognito mode to erase all your data. Then, if your financial information does get leaked, they’ll have to have worked a lot harder to get there. Alternatively, you can get a prepaid card from PayPal, Chime, and other financial services companies that you can load with money for digital transactions as a way to keep things safe. 

Don’t Give Anyone Information Over the Phone Without Verifying Who They Are

Scams happen because people call pretending to be utility companies, creditors, or others who are demanding money from the victim. They prey on desperate and unsuspecting people so that they can convince you to give them all of your financial details. Then, they’ll take that information and run with it. Many credit card fraud situations can be avoided by double-checking the calls coming in. If it’s really a creditor or utility company, you can look up their number and call them back, and they will totally understand and allow you to do that. 

Don’t Use Public WiFi for Financial Transactions

Ideally, financial transactions would only occur at your home, on a secure computer with a secure data line connected to the Internet. However, we live in the digital age, and we all have computers that we carry around in our pockets, giving us access to anything, anywhere. That includes the ability to pay bills, shop online, and even set up a consultation and make a deposit on a new HVAC system. 

Whatever you do, don’t use public WiFi connections to make these transactions. Your phone’s network is a little risky, but public spaces are ripe with scammers waiting to attack. Keep it as secure as you can for the best chances of avoiding fraud. 

Set Up Security Measures 

All banks and credit cards have fraud monitoring tools and services for their customers. Set up alerts, card or account freezes, and other security measures that are offered. Some banks will even notify you if a transaction over a certain amount is attempted, or if your card is used somewhere that you don’t normally shop (such as if you live in California and your card is used in Ohio). Take advantage of all security measures so that your cards are protected, including if they’re lost or stolen. 

The Bottom Line 

It’s about being smart, and with these tips, it’ll be much easier for you to feel secure with your financial transactions, even if you do use credit or debit cards online. You’ll also be more empowered to manage your finances because you’ve got better control and awareness, so it’s a win all around. 

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