Stop Plastic Fraud: Don't Be a Victim
Stop Plastic Fraud: Don't Be a Victim
Fraudulent claims on credit or debit cards are an everyday occurrence. While you may feel safe with your plastic safely tucked away in your wallet or purse - every time you make a purchase with your debit or credit card there is a risk of getting that information stolen. Here are a few easy was to help prevent you from becoming a victim to plastic financial fraud:
Monitor Your Credit Statements Regularly
Make it a habit to look at all recent charges on your credit or debit cards including the pending charges. When paying your monthly statement look at each charge individually - some fraudsters only make small purchases amounting to only a few dollars as many people wouldn't even notice such a small fraudulent claim and just pay it.
Check Credit History Regularly
Checking your credit score and credit history can give you an overall view of what is happening under your name. Check your credit history at least every two weeks - watch for unknown accounts or loans being opened under your name. A free credit report can be obtained here.
Avoid Storing Your Credit/Debit Info On A Website or App
Although storing credit card information on a website or phone app can be convenient - it can also open the door for plastic fraud. Having your information stored on a website/app can allow hackers access to your information.
Only Buy Off Trusted Sites
You are searching for an item online and find a website you have never heard of selling it several hundred dollars less than competitor sites - be vigilant before making such a purchase. Poorly known websites may not only be fraudulent but may also have less secure encryption protection allowing hackers access to your information. Always search engine check unknown websites to check for reports of fraud or negligence.
Use Third Party Payers For Online Transactions
Using PayPal or other third party payers is one of the safest ways to conduct transactions online. The merchant never has access to your payment information. PayPal acts as a middle man and accepts the payment from you and hands the money over to the merchant who never see's your credit or debit card information.
Scan For Skimmers
A cliche method of making a copy of your credit or debit card is the use of a skimmer - a device that reads the magnetic information on your credit or debit card and stores that information for fraudsters to make a copy of your card with. Your card can be in your possession at all times while someone else is making fraudulent purchases on it. Always check scanners for foreign or out of place equipment. Make it a habit to check recent on pending charges to catch fraudulent purchases early on.
Having a lot of cards makes it easy for one to go missing unnoticed. Keep three cards on you that are for everyday purchases while keeping others at home for unique or special transactions. This way you will be easily able to tell when a card is missing.
Use Credit Over Debit
Many people prefer to use debit cards over credit cards as a way to stay out of debt or limit their spending. If you were ever to lose your debit to a fraudster your bank account can be completely drained while a credit card is at least the banks money not yours. While you are typically not liable for the stolen money in your bank account under debit fraud - by the time you get reimbursed you may have already missed crucial payments (car, mortgage, rent) which can add to the stress of having lost all of your money. Use credit preferably over debit - at least if your card information is stolen you can simply make a fraud claim with your credit card sponsor without directly being financially affected by the fraud. If you are insistent on using debit - have it linked to an account with only a small portion of funds in a checking account while the majority of your money is stored in a savings account. Most banks make it easy to move money back and forth between accounts online ensuring you never run out of money for your debit transaction.
Email and Text Alerts
Having text and email alerts set up on your mobile device can allow you to know every transaction that goes through on a card. The quicker you catch the fraud the less time there is to cause damage.
If your credit or debit is ever stolen - make a call (to your bank or credit card provider) to shut off your card right away, open a fraud claim, check your credit report religiously for the next few months, and put a freeze on your opening new credit in your name if needed