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How to avoid credit card fraud, traps and scams

What to do if you're a victim of credit card fraud and how to avoid it in the first place.

With increased cybersecurity data breaches, financial identity thefts are now a global phenomenon. Unfortunately, many Singaporeans have also been subject to credit card scams and online fraud recently.

Use this guide to discover how you can protect your credit card account from fraud. Plus, what to do if you’ve been the victim of a fraud or scam.

What is credit card fraud?

Credit card fraud is when your credit card or account is used to make a purchase that wasn’t authorised by you. Criminals may also use your personal information – such as your name, address and PIN – to pose as you and open new lines of credit in your name.

What can I do if I think I’ve been a victim of credit card fraud?

Depending on your circumstances, you have a few options:

  • Contact your bank

If you spot suspicious activity on your credit card account, contact your card issuer immediately to freeze your account. If you have the card handy, call the number that’s printed on it to speak to a representative. Otherwise, check for the bank’s contact number on their website and contact them.

Singapore-issued cards are usually covered by Visa or Mastercard’s Zero Liability agreements or the American Express Credit Card fraud protection, which means you’ll be refunded any defrauded funds. However, terms and conditions will apply. For example, you may be required to report the issue within a set number of days.

  • Contact the Singapore Police Force

If you suspect a potential scam, contact the Anti-Scam helpline at 1800-722-6688. Launched by the Singapore Police Force, this helpline will advise and provide you with plans of action to deal with the situation. If you need to make an urgent police enquiry, call 999 or head down to your nearest police station and lodge your complaint.

To strengthen your case, make sure to collate and provide sufficient evidence in the report regarding your scam. Examples of evidence are the fraudster’s bank account details or screenshots of any text exchanges.

How does credit card fraud work?

These are the types of credit card fraud that you should watch out for and how they work:

  • Card-not-present fraud. This involves your card details being used to make online and over-the-phone transactions, where there is no need for a physical card, a PIN or a signature.
  • Counterfeit card fraud. Fraudsters can use your credit card data to make a counterfeit card. They can get your data through a method called skimming or can buy it from black markets.
  • Not-received fraud. This is when someone accesses your card before you do, such as through your mailbox when you’ve applied for a new card.
  • Application fraud. In this case, someone might apply for a credit card in your name, using your personal details and then use it to make purchases and cash advances. This is often linked to further identity theft issues, as they would need to be able to provide enough documentation to actually get approved for a card in your name.woman's hands with credit card, laptop, and cellphone

6 ways to avoid credit card fraud

Credit card fraud can come in many forms, so here are some of the strategies you should use to protect your account.

1. Keep your credit card secure

Always make sure to cover your card when entering your PIN at the checkout or when withdrawing cash from an ATM. If you’ve lost your credit card, contact your bank immediately to cancel the card and get a new one issued as soon as possible.

2. Regularly review your statement

As well as keeping track of your spending, it’s wise to regularly check your credit card statement to stay on top of any suspicious behaviour. This is relatively easy to do if you’re using Internet banking or an app.

Although your bank will usually contact you if they spot suspicious transactions on your account (such as a large or overseas transaction), you may catch a fraudster early if you’re reviewing your statement. This is because they may test your account first by making a small transaction (at either a domestic business or one overseas) before making a big purchase. The sooner you spot any odd listings on your account and report them to your bank, the better.

3. Check your credit report

As well as your credit card statement, you should also monitor your financial history through your credit report. If you see any listings (such as applications) that you didn’t make, contact the relevant card issuer and the credit reporting bureau immediately to investigate the issue and have it removed from your report.

You can purchase a copy of your credit report from Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) at $6.42 (inclusive of GST).

4. Use secure websites

When you’re shopping online, look for https:// at the beginning of the website address instead of http://. This means that the website has added security and you’re less likely to be a victim of fraud.

You should also look at the website’s reviews to see if there is any evidence of negative feedback or poor reviews of products. If an item is offered for considerably less than the online retail price, you should also be wary as it’s likely to be a scam.

When you’re using your credit card online, you could also consider using encrypted services such as PayPal which allow you to shop without sharing your financial details with the website.

5. Be wary of suspicious emails, text messages and calls

The correspondence will vary, but a scam email or text message could be asking you to update your details, reporting an overdue account or flagging a fraudulent transaction. Messages claiming you’ve won a prize or competition are also common. So be extra cautious if you haven’t entered a competition and don’t provide your personal details to an unfamiliar caller or in response to an unexpected text message.

If you receive an email or text message that appears to be from your bank, always check the phone number and address that it’s from before responding. Don’t click on any links or download any attachments from any email. If you’re suspicious, don’t respond and contact your card issuer directly via the contact number listed on their website instead.

Other tell-tale signs of a phishing email include addressing the email to “customer” rather than your full name, spelling and grammatical errors, odd symbols and incorrect logos. If you suspect these are suspicious, you can report it to ScamAlert, mark it as spam and block the email or contact number.

If you receive a call from someone who claims to be your bank and asks you to confirm your card information, don’t provide any information. Instead, contact your bank directly using the contact details listed on their website to find out if it was a legitimate call. You should be especially careful if the call is from an international or blocked number.

6. Notify your bank if your address or contact details change

If your residential details change, contact your bank to have your details updated so that any new cards or bank statements aren’t sent to your old address. You should also update your contact information if it changes so that your bank can contact you regarding a potentially fraudulent transaction on your account.

Bottom line

Credit card fraud can be an overwhelming experience, but it’s important to remain calm and contact your card issuer as soon as possible.

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