7 ways to protect your finances from credit card fraud
Practical ways you can avoid credit card fraud.
It’s never been easier to make online credit card purchases, but that also makes it easier for fraudsters to commit cybercrimes against you. Fortunately, there are simple ways to protect your finances from potential scammers.
Here are seven ways to avoid credit card fraud and make purchases confidently.
1. Set up credit fraud alerts or freezes.
Most of the best credit cards have apps that alert you of a suspicious payment or charge. If you believe you’ve become a fraud victim, take precautions to protect yourself by setting a fraud alert on your credit reports. That notifies creditors that a criminal could be using your personal information. You can also place a credit freeze on your reports, blocking anyone from opening new accounts in your name.
If you see or suspect unauthorized activity on your credit cards, contact the issuer for help resolving the issue. In most cases, your financial liability for unauthorized credit card charges is limited to $50 if you report it immediately.
2. Understand phishing scams.
Phishing is when a fraudster tries to trick you into giving them confidential information, such as your credit card, bank account number or Social Security number. It could come from a fake email or text designed to look legitimate, such as from a government office or credit card company.
Never click on links or reply with personal information if you get an unsolicited email or text. That could result in malware, or malicious software, getting installed on your computer or device and harming you.
3. Shop on secure websites only.
When you shop online, check that the website is secure with “https” at the beginning of the address in your web browser (known as a URL) and shows a padlock icon. The “s” in the address stands for secure, which means the website is encrypted, protecting your data.
Avoid making purchases or accessing your financial accounts over public, unsecured WiFi networks. Cybercriminals can intercept your data and steal your confidential information.
4. Beware of card skimmers.
Card skimmers are devices used by fraudsters to steal your personal information. They can attach them to various machines, such as ATMs, gas pumps and checkout devices. When you or a thief swipes your card, the skimmer copies your information and can use it to make unauthorized purchases.
5. Check your credit card statements regularly.
Don’t wait until your monthly credit card statements arrive to review your transactions. Instead, log in to your online account weekly to check for any suspicious activity, such as:
- Purchases you didn’t make.
- Charges that exceed the price you agreed to pay.
- Changes to your personal information, like your address or phone number.
Report any unfamiliar charges or unusual account activity to your card issuer immediately.
6. Monitor your credit reports.
Your credit reports include information for your current and past credit accounts. So, checking them regularly, such as at least once a year or quarter, is wise. Look for accounts you didn’t open, incorrect credit limits or other suspicious activity.
7. Use an EMV chip card.
EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) credit cards, known as chip cards, are more secure than traditional magnetic stripe cards. They create a unique code for each transaction, making it more difficult for cybercriminals to steal your data. Learn more about cards with the least fraud complaints.
About the Author
Laura Adams is a money expert and spokesperson for Finder. She’s one of the nation’s leading personal finance and business authorities. As an award-winning author and host of the top-rated Money Girl podcast since 2008, millions of readers, listeners, and loyal fans benefit from her practical advice. Laura is a trusted source for media and has been featured on most major news outlets, including ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, Consumer Reports, Forbes, Fortune, FOX, Money, MSN, NBC, NPR, NY Times, USA Today, US News, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and more. She received an MBA from the University of Florida and lives in Vero Beach, Florida. Her mission is to empower consumers to live healthy and rich lives by making the most of what they have, planning for the future, and making smart money decisions every day.
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