Credit Card Fraud is when your account is used fraudulently and people make charges on your card without your knowledge/consent. An extreme version is a thief stealing your wallet, but there are also more subtle and clever methods, such as a relative or server at a restaurant jotting down your credit card information and making small charges over a period of time.
There are steps you can take to prevent fraud. Having a list of all your credit cards, expiration dates, and the phone numbers of your creditors can help if your wallet is stolen. This information will make it much easier and be very helpful when reporting security issues to your creditors.
Consider these suggestions for keeping your accounts and personal information safe:
- Don’t give your account number to anyone on the phone unless you’ve made the call to a company you know to be reputable. If you’ve never done business with them before, do an online search first for reviews or complaints.
- Carry your cards separately from your wallet. It can minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse. And carry only the card you need for that outing.
- Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
- Save your receipts to compare with your statement.
- During a transaction, keep your eye on your card. Make sure you get it back before you walk away.
- Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling.
- Make sure your internet router is up-to-date. To verify, check the settings on your computer and speak to your internet provider. Purchasing a new router is much less expensive and stressful than having your identity stolen.
- Never post your date of birth or address on social media since both of these facts are excellent information for a criminal to use fraudulently.
- Use a picture ID other than a license when visiting buildings that require it. If they give you a hard time explain you were a victim of Identity Theft and it was suggested to you by experts not to share your license.
- Do not save passwords on your computer and make sure the passwords you use do not include: your name, a pet’s name, date of birth, your spouse’s name, or any other info that can be easily found. Passwords should be as complicated and random as possible.
- Invest in a credit monitoring product that alerts you to key changes on your credit such as third party credit reviews, opening of accounts, balance changes on your credit cards, and address changes.
- Monitor your savings accounts online. Most of us just review our checking and credit card accounts since we know there is continuous activity. We rarely look at our savings accounts which makes them even more vulnerable.
- Watch all your statements and check every charge to verify they are legitimate. Even small charges could be a test by a thief who is in the beginning stages of the criminal process.
- Shred all documents before discarding them.
- Keep a lock on your mailbox, or to be extremely safe use a PO Box. Always keep documents in your home locked away.
- Use excellent Anti Virus products for your computers and make sure you keep them updated daily.
- Never give information to a creditor that calls you requesting name, social, account number, address, etc. Always call the creditor or bank back at a number you verified online or from your credit card.
- Never open links from an email or website if you are not certain they are safe.
- Keep your phone password protected at all times.
- Submitting your tax return as early as possible is a deterrent for becoming a victim of tax return fraud.
- If you visit a doctor, eye glass store, or any business that requires filling out a form with personal identification information and you see they are not taking precautions to keep that documentation safe speak up and complain or find another provider.