It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. This basic principle means that many of mankind’s greatest achievements have been born out of our biggest predicaments. Therefore, in harsh economic times such as these, many people are coming up with innovative business models, finding new ways of solving old problems and crafting ingenious ways to turn a profit.
Unfortunately, just as the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, criminal groups are just as likely to up their game in pressing situations as legitimate organizations are. As a result techniques for credit card fraud are becoming more and more advanced, responding to technological developments and policing techniques in order to get access to your money.
Despite this, preventing credit cards fraud can be incredibly simple. Here are some of the most effective ways to secure yourself against the fraudsters;
Check Your Statements Regularly
The first step is to check your statements regularly to check for any activity you believe doesn’t add up. Don’t remember making a purchase? Check your receipts for the month. It can be annoying to store these, but it is the best way to verify whether you made the purchase or if it was somehow done with a cloned card.
You may be thinking that if the transaction is so forgettable that you can’t remember if you actually did it or not, then its unlikely a fraudster would have gone to the trouble of making it.
Whilst it’s true that many criminals, would simply withdraw as much cash as possible the moment they got access to your funds, there are those who play the long con. These guys will only spend small amounts on a clone card, from areas in you local vicinity (in the knowledge the credit card companies and banks will notice large transactions in unusual places), in the hope that you won’t notice. This way they can bleed you slowly without the card being cancelled, so be sure to check statements thoroughly.
The quicker you cancel a card that you have lost or noticed unusual behaviour on, the quicker you reduce the chance of anyone illegally getting hold of your money.
It’s a good idea to have a customer service number jotted down that you can call to cancel a card immediately if you suspect a problem.
Never Let Your Card Out of Your Sight
If, in a restaurant, or any other point of sale, someone tries to carry out a transaction using your card, insist it be done in front of you. This is especially important abroad, where it is a common scam to take a tourists card from a restaurant and clone it.
Beware that a criminal only needs a photo of the details on your card and the information is just as valuable to them as if they has the card itself.
With all the technology that comes with mobile phones these days, almost everybody has some form of camera on them. It’s just as important not to leave your card in someone else’s sight as it is not to let it leave yours.
Limit Your Overdraught
People often do not realise the size of the overdraught facility that comes with their bank account. This amount can range from $500 to $10,000. It’s normally unadvisable to have a big overdraught anyway as you’ll be tempted to use it, and it’s never fun to owe money. Another reason is that, even if you never use it, a fraudster will gladly help himself to the full amount.
Ideally your bank will foot the bill if you are the victim of fraud, but the less money fraudsters are able to get at, the less risk there is to you. For the same reason it can benefit you to split your money between different accounts.
If you do split your funds between accounts, only take the cards you are intending to spend on out with you on shopping trips.
Don’t Leave a Paper Trail
Remember to shred documents such as bank statements, credit card bills, tax documents and credit card offers, all of which could be of use to a fraudster, before you throw them out. Likewise, ensure you fit a lock to your mailbox, to stop fraudsters getting to the personal details that lie within.
You should also take care not to freely give this information away. If you use social networking sites you should be aware of your privacy settings. Don’t allow fraudsters to piece together the information they need to assume your identity.
Never Sign a Blank Credit Card Receipt
If you’re presented with a credit card receipt that doesn’t have the amount written on, don’t sign it, or, if you prefer, cross through blank spaces or write $0 in any gaps on the slip before you give them your signature. If not you never know what might get added before it reaches your credit card issuer.
Don’t Fall for Phishing
If you receive an email which provides you with a link and asks you to provide any of your financial or security information, do not fill it out, regardless of who it appears to be from. Banks and other legitimate companies will never ask you to supply information in this way, yet it is a common technique imposters use to gain access to your details.
Anti-virus software can be a massive help in letting you know if a webpage on which you are being asked to enter sensitive information is secure or not, but you should also follow your gut in only using a website you have reason to trust 100%.
Excessive adverts and pop-ups are always a hint that a website may be linked to a scam. Another sure fire indicator as to the legitimacy of the website is whether or not it has a secure connection. On these pages the web address will start “https” rather than “http”. If that ‘s’ is missing then the page is not secure.
Jason Henderson is a personal finance aid to many people in his local community and doles out some other serious credit advice on his FinanceNet blog.