Nowadays, while there are a lot of precautions with credit cards to prevent you from losing more than maybe fifty dollars in the event of credit card fraud.
Zero-liability policies aside, it’s a good idea for you to take measures to protect your card from fraud for your own peace of mind and convenience if nothing else.
Here are some ways you can limit your risk.
Phishing is an attempt by someone to trick you into providing your credit card information through means of a scam. As technology becomes more advanced, so do the techniques that thieves use to try to get at your personal information.
Some of them use familiar businesses or even government entities such as the IRS as a front to try to get you to reveal information they can use to steal your money.
These phishing attempts can take place through e-mail, online, through text and phone calls, or even snail mail.
Anytime someone wants to get your credit card number, investigate. There’s nothing wrong with being suspicious when somebody wants this information, especially if it’s an organization you don’t know or if the situation feels fishy.
Skimming is harder to prevent yourself than phishing because this is when someone you provide your credit card to through the course of a normal translation.
An example situation could be a waiter taking information from your card and later using it for themselves.
There are also situations to be wary of where payment terminals may have devices attached to read information from your card when you use it, so if you see anything that looks suspicious, question it.
Fortunately, skimming has been dramatically reduced by the introduction of the EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) chips on credit cards, which do not use the risky magnetic stripe to deliver information and are more protected. There is even a Discover Card EMV chip that features contactless payment.
Be aware that you are still at risk if the pay terminal forces you to use a magnetic strip.
Paying with your phone can actually provide even greater protection than using the EMV chip on a credit card. If you have Apple or Android pay, the benefit is that these types of payment methods use rotating numerical payment information so that your actual card number is never used and each time, the number is different.
Card differentiation isn’t really a method of prevention as much as a mitigating factor. What that means is, in the worst-case scenario, differentiating which cards are used for which purpose could save you a lot of headaches.
When you are handling your autopay bills, keep a specific card whose sole purpose is nothing but those transactions. Do not use it for your general spending or anything else. The reasoning behind this is that it’s a secure card because it never goes into anybody’s hands and reduces the risk of skimming or phishing.
Plus, in the event that your other card, the spending card, is compromised, your only real task is to freeze the card. You will not have to figure out which autopay options need to be reestablished with a new card or deal with that hassle.
These companies sound like they can protect your credit cards, but really all they do is something you can do on your own — monitor your card and discover if it has been used without your permission.
There’s often little use in paying for this service, especially because with the anti-liability policies, you’re not going to be out much if any money in the event of credit card fraud, anyhow.
If the worst comes to pass and your wallet is stolen, cancel your cards immediately. There is typically a toll-free number you can call to quickly lock down any missing cards before the situation turns sour.
Make sure to monitor your transactions and occasionally perform a free credit check to make sure that any damage due to fraud is quickly limited. Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax are the three major credit bureaus and once a year you can check your credit with these agencies for free.
Be mindful when you receive notifications about purchases or warnings about unusual activity on your accounts. Make sure you investigate just to be sure that your personal information is not at risk.
Keep in mind that credit card fraud can be a serious offense. Minor convictions can lead to fines or jail times, but anyone who is convicted of felony offenses can be sentenced to up to fifteen years for a first offense or up to twenty years for subsequent offenses.
If you want more information on how to protect yourself from credit card fraud, there are many online sources you can investigate to learn more, or there are also physical book options, such as Credit Card Fraud For Dummies, which features in-depth and easy to understand information.
It’s always better to be too prepared than not prepared enough!