Credit card fraud is rampant—each year, hundreds of thousands of U.S. consumers are impacted by scams, stolen cards, or credit card data breaches. Although there's no foolproof way to protect against all credit card fraud, there are a few simple steps you can take to significantly reduce your risks.
Below, we'll discuss some tips for protecting against credit card fraud, what happens if your credit card is lost or stolen, and what you can do to monitor your credit usage and spot fraud immediately.
Tips to Prevent Credit Card Fraud
When it comes to credit card fraud, an old saying holds true: the best defense is a good offense. A few proactive steps can make you a much harder target for scam artists, hackers, and other credit card criminals.
Monitor and Shred Documents - Even Junk Mail!
You may be thinking that since your bank statements, credit card statements, and other financial documents don’t include your full account or credit card number, you don’t have to worry about them. That is far from accurate.
Even without all the details, these documents often include sensitive information, such as your name, address, the last few digits of your account number or Social Security number, your transaction history, and your credit limit. By shredding these statements (or opting for paper-free delivery), you'll be able to keep your sensitive financial information much closer to the vest.
It's also not a good idea to throw out junk mail that contains pre-approved credit card offers. Someone who comes across one of these offers could apply for credit in your name and even have the credit card sent to a different address - leaving you unaware that anything is amiss until you begin receiving collection notices or realize your credit report shows a new account. You can shred your documents for FREE at any Best Reward Branch!
Keep Your Credit Cards Secure
Although credit card scams involving physical cards are less common now that so much information is available online, they can still happen. Consider reducing the number of credit cards you carry in your purse or wallet and keep the others in a secure place.
It may also be a good idea to pare down the number of cards you have. If you tend to rely on just a few credit cards, consider whether other cards can be closed. This will reduce the risk of these cards becoming compromised, especially if you don’t check your statements often since you're not using these credit cards regularly.
Best Reward offers two VISA Credit Cards for you - Platinum or Platinum Rewards with Account Alerts that help prevent fraud. Click HERE to learn more.
Stay Up-to-Date on Credit Card Phone and Web Scams
Scam artists are constantly tweaking the tricks they use to con others. Although you can probably spot a "Microsoft Tech Support" scam from a mile away, today's scams are cleverer and more insidious - and it can be tough to identify them.
The best way to avoid the latest scams and prevent credit card fraud is common sense. Stay educated and, if you get a phone call or email that raises any red flags, always make sure you confirm its legitimacy by contacting the company directly.
Also remember that government agencies such as the IRS won't ever ask you for payment information over the phone (and, in the vast majority of cases, they won't initiate a phone call with you in the first place).
Keep an Eye Out for Credit Card Skimmers
Credit card skimmers are unobtrusive devices that fit over the top of credit card readers and steal your information when you place your card inside. They are most often used at places where they can quickly be installed and removed, such as gas stations and ATMs. And with today’s technology, information from skimmers can be sent electronically or via Bluetooth.
Skimmers can be tough to spot. If the credit card reader looks slightly larger than normal, jiggles when you put your card in, or the PIN pad buttons are hard to press, you may be dealing with a skimming attempt. Unfortunately, you usually won’t notice that you’ve fallen victim to a scam until fraudulent transactions start showing up on your credit card statement.
Reporting a Lost or Stolen Credit Card
If you suspect a credit card has been compromised or if you lost the physical credit card, the most important step is to call your credit card issuer. Canceling your credit card and having a new one issued is simple, and this will help limit any damage the identity thief plans to do with your card.
After you've reported your lost or stolen credit card and a new one has been issued, you'll want to update any online bill payments that use this credit card and remove the card as a payment option for any commonly used websites.
How to Prevent Credit Card Fraud: Monitor Your Credit
Monitoring your credit report is a good idea even if your credit card information hasn't been breached recently. There are a variety of different monitoring services, from those that email you anytime you make a purchase over a certain dollar amount to those that only notify you if a new account is opened in your name. Learn more HERE.
Also, be sure to get a FREE copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting agency (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) to ensure that the information on all of your credit reports is correct and up to date. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get started.You can pull one credit report every four months to monitor your credit throughout the year. At Best Reward Federal Credit Union, we will teach you how to prevent credit card fraud and show you the tools that can help you - and your Best Reward VISA Credit Card - stay safe.
8 Useful Apps For Managing Your Credit