Credit card fraud prevention and security measures are getting more advanced, and so are fraudsters' tactics to break through these barriers. In 2010 alone, the RCMP reported that Canadian's saw more than $365,916,944 in total credit card fraud. Taking measures to avoid credit card fraud is more important than ever in today's digital world. Following the 15 tips below should help you ensure that your credit card is protected at all times. Credit card fraud prevention should be "top of mind" to every card holder.
- Don't lend your credit card to others
This is probably the most common sense tip; if you lend your card to someone-anyone-you're opening yourself up unauthorized transactions and the possibility that your credit card could be lost.
- Pay close attention when using your credit card at retail stores
When you hand your card over, watch that the person behind the counter does not copy down your credit card details or use your card in a suspicious manner. Always collect your receipt, and look at it to confirm the date, price, and name of the store are correctly recorded.
- Sign the back of your credit card as soon as you receive it
Never leave the signature spot on the back of your card unsigned. This signature is often used to verify your identity so the sooner you sign it the sooner you'll be protected from unauthorized transactions and identity fraud.
- Don't write down your PIN
Do not write down your PIN anywhere, especially on your card. The PIN should be memorized by you.
- Protect your PIN at all times
Shield your PIN from the view of others when entering it at retail stores and ATM machines.
- Check your credit card statements every month
This is crucial to not only keep track of your spending but also spot unauthorized transactions. If you hold onto all your receipts it will make the task that much easier. You can also check your credit card usage online, for more frequent tracking.
- Shred all your credit card statements
Don't throw away your credit card statements and receipts; shred them to prevent unauthorized access by others. This also applies to all other documents containing your credit card information.
- Cut your old cards once they expire/are cancelled
Fraudsters are getting smarter and even a cancelled/expired credit card can still be used to commit credit card fraud.
- Never give your credit card information over email/phone
Legitimate companies will never contact you via email or phone requesting your credit card information. The only exception to this rule is if you personally call the company and initiate the purchase.
- Avoid providing your credit card information on non-secure websites
Only use your credit card on trusted websites with proper security. An easy way to check if a website is secure (information is encrypted) is if it has an https in the URL or a locked padlock symbol in the status bar. Also check for security certificates on the website or customer reviews from third-party websites.
- Report a lost/stolen card and unauthorized transaction immediately
As soon as you realize your credit card is missing call the credit card company. They'll freeze or cancel your current credit card and prevent fraud.
- Never sign a blank credit card receipt
Although used less and less these days, manually entered credit card purchases (via an imprinter) should always be completed in full with the total clearly indicated to prevent others from adding amounts to the receipt. You should also draw lines through any blank spots on the receipt where additional charges could appear.
- Only carry with you a credit card that you need
You often need to carry only one credit card. All other credit cards should be kept in a safe place. This will reduce the risk of credit card fraud if your wallet is lost or stolen.
- Inform your credit card company when you're travelling
Doing this will help the credit card company better determine which posted transactions on your card should be flagged as suspicious. It will also help prevent your card from being frozen when trying to use it at the country you're travelling to.
- Notify your credit card company of a change in address
Statements mailed to an old address, could end up in the hands of the wrong people. It is always better to notify the credit card company ahead of the change.
Avoiding credit card fraud starts with you. By being attentive to purchases you make on your card, your monthly statements, and ensuring any companies that require your credit information are safe and secure, the chance of fraudulent activities on your credit card can be significantly decreased. While fraud can happen regardless of how careful you might be, protecting your credit card from identity theft is a responsibility that could save you a major headache.
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