Credit card theft is the most common form of credit card fraud. However, this does not mean a credit card thief can only “steal” your credit card physically. Credit card theft means having your credit card information compromised or stolen, and often times used. It can happen in a variety of ways ranging from someone simply going through your trash or discarded papers for your information, to hacking your email accounts or tricking you into giving away your information.
It should be clear that credit card theft is a serious issue, and should not be taken lightly when being guarded against. Despite the fact there are so many methods a thief may use to steal your information, there are some basic tips and precautions that should prevent this terrible situation from ever happening to you if you are careful.
The most basic and important piece of advice you can be given by anyone about avoiding credit card theft is simply t o not give out your credit card information to anyone; this speaks for itself. The easiest way for someone to steal your information is for you to hand it over to them non-the-wiser. Clearly there are exceptions such as family members, but even in these cases it pays to be extremely cautious.
Even if you trust a person, giving them credit card information may turn out to be a bad idea, and the reality is that this person, especially if they are your children, may not be as careful as you are. On the other hand, some people may seem trustworthy when they are not. Never give out your information to anyone who calls you on the phone, even if they claim to be your bank.
The nature of a “scammer” is that they are convincing, so be sure you are always the one who made the call and to a trustworthy company if you decide to give out your credit card information. The same can be applied to emails, except never give out your credit card information via email since emails can be hacked, and it is more difficult to keep an email secure than a call you made yourself. If you are unsure about a company you are calling and may have to give your information to, learn all you possibly can about them and decide from there.
Secondly, be careful online; there are a number of ways your information can be stolen online. The most prevalent and dangerous form is through Phishing scams. The Nigerian Letter Scam described by the FBI is one such scam, and these occur where an email is received through one means or another, and that requests you give over your information in some form, whether it be your passwords or credit card information; these are ones to watch for.
Online scammers will often pose as legitimate emails, such as emails from your bank or your email provider, saying things like: “You have won the lottery,” or “if you do not respond in 48 hours your account will be closed.” If you receive one of these ignore them, but if you are truly concerned, call your bank or whichever company the email refers to and verify the contents. Even then, never give out your information, click on any links they provide, or open any attachments. Check this website for a more detailed explanation of phishing and how to avoid it, whether with credit card scams or any other form of fraud. Also, when making purchases online, check to make sure the site is legitimate and secure. If the site is not one hundred percent secure, or does not have an HTTPS URL, do not enter your financial information.
Thirdly are the more obvious means of securing your credit card information that people tend to not pay attention to in the busy and fast paced nature of everyday life. Don’t leave your credit cards lying around, and the same applies to receipts paid for with your credit card. Destroy any documents that your credit card number exists on. Keep your statements in a safe place, and shred them when they are no longer needed.
Also, be sure to sign your credit cards as soon as you receive them.iI you don’t and you lose them, the finder may sign their own name on it making it easier for them to use it. Do not write your pin on your credit card or anywhere near it. This way, in the event that your credit card gets stolen, the thief cannot use it at an ATM. Likewise, be careful at ATMs by shielding your credit card number so others around you cannot copy or capture it on a camera or cell phone.
It should also be noted that you should never sign a blank receipt. Either draw a line through any blank spaces above the total or write “$0” to prevent someone else from writing an amount on the receipt and charging you for an amount you did not pay.
If possible, carry your cards separately from your wallet. This can minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse. Also try to only carry the card or cards you need. Furthermore, during a transaction, keep your eye on your card. Make sure you get it back before you walk away. Unscrupulous individuals may try to write down your number, or alternatively use credit card skimming to steal your information. It may seem impolite, but it is your credit card, and no one can blame your for keeping a close eye on it and how it is used when you entrust another person with it.
Fourthly, report any lost or stolen credit cards immediately. The sooner you report a missing credit card the less likely it is that you’ll have to pay fraudulent charges made on your credit card. Be sure to write down your credit card company’s customer service number now so you’ll have it if your card ever goes missing. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24-hour services to deal with this. Once you report the loss or theft, the law says you have no additional responsibility for charges you did not make, though you may have to pay a fee for each card lost or stolen. In order to avoid mix-ups, notify your card issuer if you are moving or going abroad so that statements and cards are not sent to the wrong address.
Finally, review your billing statements each month. Check them against your receipts and look for unauthorized or suspicious charges. These are the first indicators of fraud or theft. It does not matter how small the amount is, report it immediately and follow your issuer’s instructions exactly.
Credit card theft may seem a remote or unlikely risk, but it is a major problem in contemporary society. In our highly digital world, it’s necessary to take extra precautions to prevent compromises beyond what we might expect. There are many ways this can be done, but the most important begins with you and common sense.
Do not do something or agree to something that you know is dangerous or suspicious. Take every precaution even if it seems annoying or a hassle. This is because your safety is what matters, and the safety and security of your hard-earned money requires your constant vigilance, attention and intelligence to secure.