Credit cards offer us convenience, access to additional funds, and most of all rewards. However, they don’t come with 100 percent security so it’s important that you know how to protect yourself from credit card fraud. From low tech dumpster diving to high tech hacking, fraud can happen in a variety of ways and to anyone. Fraud, especially credit card fraud, is something that we will never be able to stop completely but there are certainly ways to help protect yourself and your money.
“I have personally been affected by credit card fraud within the last few months,” said Cara Dolberg, member of the Best Card team. “I noticed 10, yes 10, $1.99 charges to an ancestry registry website that I had never even visited much less made a purchase. Luckily, I check my account on a regular basis so I called my credit card issuer immediately and a case was opened. It’s a little unnerving that someone got a hold of my information but it will not stop me from using my credit card for purchases made in store or online,” she added.
Ways to Protect Yourself:
Incorporating a few practices into your daily routine can help keep your cards and account numbers safe.
- Keep a record of your account numbers, expiration dates and the phone number to report fraud in a secure place.
- Don’t lend your card to anyone — even your kids or roommates.
- Keep your cards, receipts, or statements around in a secure place in your home or office.
- Shred cards, receipts, or statements before throwing them away.
- Don’t give your account number to anyone on the phone unless you’ve made the call to a company you know to be reputable.
- If you’ve never done business with them before, do an online search first for reviews or complaints.
- Carry your cards separately from your main wallet. It can minimize losses if someone steals your wallet or purse.
- During a transaction, keep your eye on your card. Make sure you get it back before you walk away.
- Never sign a blank receipt – draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
- Save your receipts to compare with your statement.
- Open your bills promptly — or check them online often — and reconcile them with the purchases you’ve made.
- Report any questionable charges to the card issuer.
- Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling.
- Don’t write your account number on the outside of an envelope.
Safeguard Your Information Online:
- Clear your logins and passwords. This is especially important if you’ve been working on a public computer.
- Change logins and passwords monthly.
- Pay for online purchases with your credit card, which has better guarantees under federal law than your online payment services or your debit card.
- Be alert for phishing, a trick in which spam or pop-ups mimic legitimate banks or businesses to obtain your personal information, which they use to access your accounts. Always verify that you’re on a familiar Web site with security controls before entering personal data.
How do I report fraud and will I be held liable for any fraudulent charges?
If you notice a suspicious charge or your card has been lost or stolen, call the card issuer immediately. The Fair Credit Billing Act states you have no additional responsibility for charges you didn’t make with a credit card; in any case, your liability for each card lost or stolen is $50. If you suspect that the card was used fraudulently, you may have to sign a statement under oath that you didn’t make the purchases in question.
The Electronic Funds Transfer Act helps to protect funds lost through the use of an ATM or debit card. If you report an ATM or debit card missing before someone uses it, the EFTA says you are not responsible for any unauthorized transactions. If someone uses your ATM or debit card before you report it lost or stolen, your liability depends on how quickly you report it:
|If you report:||Your maximum loss:|
|Before any unauthorized charges are made.|
|Within 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft.|
|More than 2 business days after you learn about the loss or theft, but less than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you.|
|More than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you.||All the money taken from|
your ATM/debit card account, and possibly more; for example, money in accounts linked to your debit account.
As you can see, credit cards tend to be safer than using ATM or debit cards. For more information on the Fair Credit Billing Act or the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website below.