Since credit card fraud can be a costly and inconvenient mishap, the best thing consumers can do is take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. When you know the right strategies for fraud prevention, your financial data will remain safe and secure. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to prevent credit card fraud.
What Is Credit Card Fraud?
Credit card fraud involves the fraudulent use of a credit card to obtain cash or complete transactions. This usually occurs in one of two ways – through the physical use of a lost or stolen credit card or the compromise of your digital financial data through cybercrimes like phishing.
In addition, targets of identity theft may also fall victim to having new credit card accounts opened in their name. This is another form of credit card fraud that can be even more harmful than the use of your existing credit card since you are often unaware of the crime until bill collectors start calling or you get denied for credit.
Tips to Prevent Credit Card Fraud
To avoid becoming a victim of credit card fraud (and other forms of identity theft), consider utilizing the following tips and resources to protect yourself and your financial information:
Only Use Secure Websites
When you are completing purchases and other transactions online, it is very important to check for signs of a secure and trustworthy connection, such as an SSL certificate or the presence of “HTTPS” in the website’s URL. In some cases, if you attempt to access a fraudulent or unsecure website, your browser or anti-virus software may alert you.
Avoid Phishing Scams
One common way that fraud can occur is via the use of fake websites to obtain your login and other personal information like your social security number. You may receive an unexpected email that appears to be from your bank or encounter a suspicious link elsewhere on the web.
To avoid falling victim to a phishing scam, always check the URL to make sure that you are logging in to your financial institution’s legitimate site.
Enroll in a Credit Monitoring or Identity Theft Protection Service
These resources, often available through your bank or a third party, automatically scan your credit reports and accounts for any fraudulent activity. Some of these services even regularly scan the dark web for any compromise of your information.
Review Your Financial Data Often
This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to prevent credit card fraud. From your credit card statements to your credit reports, be sure to check all of your personal financial information regularly to catch any fraudulent activity.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Never leave your purse or wallet unattended, always look around you when using your credit card at an ATM, and be on the lookout for suspicious-looking devices at gas pumps that could be used to skim your financial information.
What to Do if You Suspect Credit Card Fraud
What should you do if you suspect fraud? If you become a victim of credit card fraud, it is important to take action right away. Some of the steps to restoring your financial security include:
Contact Your Card Issuer
Anytime you lose your credit card(s) or come across a suspicious transaction on your statement, contact the card issuer immediately to cancel your cards or dispute the fraudulent transaction(s). Every financial institution should have a robust identity theft and fraud reporting system to assist you.
File a Credit Report Dispute
If you encounter any inaccurate information on your credit reports, such as a new credit card account that you did not open, you can follow the steps on that credit bureau’s website to dispute the information and trigger an investigation.
Place Alerts on Your Credit Reports
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself in the event of becoming a fraud victim is to place fraud alerts or freezes on your file with all three credit bureaus. This will notify the bureaus and anyone else who attempts to run your credit that you may have been a victim of identity theft or fraud. Consequently, it will require lenders to verify your identity before extending any credit to you or anyone claiming to be you.
Report the Crime to Law Enforcement
Having a police report can help you down the line, especially if your credit card was physically stolen. It may even help you recover your belongings if the thief is caught with your credit cards.
Report Fraud to the FTC
Similarly, using the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website allows you to file a report which can be used in the investigation of your situation, as well as be used for proof in later disputes.
Choose a Credit Card that Protects You
At Belco Community Credit Union, our mission is to help you fulfill your financial needs with competitive banking services and products, including personal loans, mortgages, and lines of credit.
Our signature credit cards like the Belco Visa® Business Card and Belco Visa® Platinum Prime Card include security measures such as purchase protection, visa liability waivers, and a 24-hour assistance center.