15 ways to avoid credit card fraud these victims wish they knew beforehand
A look at how to prevent credit card fraud and advice from victims.
Within the first quarter of 2020, reports of increased fraud and identity theft, up 20.1% from the previous quarter with credit card fraud leading the charge. The Consumer Federal Protection Bureau (CFPB) allows consumers to submit complaints on financial products, including credit card fraud.
As a practical bunch here at finder.com, we analyzed the complaints and found 15 takeaways to avoid credit card identity theft. For the sake of maintaining anonymity, we use “XXXX” in place of identifying information.
1. Keep your credit cards out of reach from children
When you leave your child home alone for a few hours, you might mention in passing to not burn the house down. But what happens when said child uses your credit cards in your absence? Someone was definitely grounded in that household.
Your kids likely don’t understand all of the intricacies of credit and could leave you with a hefty bill.
2. Don’t give out your information over the phone
If it’s too good to be true, then it likely is. This person learned a valuable lesson about giving information over the phone. Don’t do it. This one merits a palm to the face.
3. Don’t click on credit related pop-ups — or any pop-ups for that matter
Internet pop-ups are deviously designed to download viruses and other malware onto your computer. If you value your privacy, turn on “Pop Up Blocker” in your browser.
4. Extended family should not have access to your personal information
Don’t trust anyone with your personal information, even family members can unknowingly — or purposely — cause credit card issues.
5. Do some background information on a prospective investment, especially if it involves a lot of money.
Research the company, make sure you are taking the minimum possible risk, assume it’s a scam. This person was scammed out of thousands of dollars while the credit card company stood by unsympathetically.
6. Frequently check your credit report as a safeguard against identity theft.
Imagine applying for a checking account and finding out that your social security number is already in use. Your credit report is essentially a biography of your life. Use it to your advantage when you suspect identity theft.
7. Check how your credit card company is sending your bill.
Part of the responsibility that comes with owning a credit card is that you pay off your monthly balance before the due date. Some credit card companies have adapted to the paperless world by forgoing the monthly bill in the mail. If you haven’t received your bill in a few weeks, assume they have not notified you about the switch to paperless.
8. Threaten to take your money elsewhere if your customer service rep gives you the runaround.
Customer service can leave you steaming. Recognize that you are not important to your credit company, your money is. Threatening to take your money to a competitor should grab your service rep’s attention.
9. Have your facts straight before talking to the police
It doesn’t take the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the victim didn’t willingly give their credit card to an unwanted house guest. Document any evidence that would help you in the event that you go to court over damages.
10. Don’t take credit card advertisements at face value
This tip falls in line with conducting thorough research before choosing which credit card is right for you. Credit card companies have teams of lawyers who find convoluted loopholes and clauses all in the attempt to retain the least liability.
11. Keep a log of all abusive collection calls
Your first line of defense against an obtrusive collection agency is to log any and all interactions. Keep a memo of any foul or threatening language, late night calls or frequency of calls.
12. Freeze your credit and opt out of preapproved credit card offerings for the time being
If your credit card company issues you a new credit card without you having applied for it, you are probably the victim of identity theft. Freeze your accounts immediately before inquiring what has happened.
13. Add extra layers of protection
Data that is typically exposed in hacks can result in SIM swapping. Use two-factor authentication and utilize the option to have a PIN. While it might be annoying to always have to punch it in, these added steps make your account that much more secure.
14. Don’t be lured in by free trials and offers
There are sites that claim to offer free credit reports, but if you’re not careful you could end up paying for it. The 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act gives consumers the right to get a free credit report every year from each of the three credit bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian — through AnnualCreditReport.com. If you’re signing up for a “free trial” that requires credit card information, chances are you’re on the wrong site.
15. Be careful about adding authorized users
Unless there is a very good reason, be wary about granting another person access to your financial accounts, especially a stranger. Stranger-danger is still real well into adulthood.
What to do when you think your credit card is compromised
After the initial stress of finding out unauthorized charges on your credit card account, take a deep breath and calm down. Everything can be resolved.
- Lock your card. Some cards let you lock or freeze your credit card online or through your mobile app. If this is a possibility, use it.
- Call your credit card provider. If the card is physically present, call the number on the back of your card. Otherwise, look for the number on your credit card statement or online. Credit card providers have zero liability policy, meaning you won’t be held liable for unauthorized charges you report to your card issuer.
- Review your credit card transactions. Make sure you note all transactions you didn’t make. You can also check your other credit card transactions to make sure they aren’t compromised as well.
- Change your password and PIN. Proceed to change your password and credit card PIN to prevent additional unauthorized charges.
- Call the credit bureaus. If multiple credit card accounts are compromised, call the credit bureaus. In this case, you may also call the police and file a report — especially, if you suspect identity theft.
Find a credit card that you’re least likely to complain about
Ultimately, life happens to the best of us. But if credit card fraud strikes, we want our banks to handle it quickly and promptly so we don’t have to submit a complaint to the CFPB. Find out which credit card issuers are least likely to receive a credit card fraud complaint before applying for your next card.
For all media inquiries, please contact:
Chelsea Gregori, Public Relations Specialist
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