Do you know how to protect yourself from credit card fraud? There always seems to be headlines about yet another data breach—when hackers break into a company’s computer system and steal sensitive and confidential personal data about their customers and clients.
In 2018, Marriott International announced
that a break in to its guest reservation database exposed information about as
many as 500 million people, including names, addresses and, in some cases,
credit card numbers. Saks and Lord & Taylor
announced that a hacking group was selling details about 5 million stolen
credit and debit cards from their customers. And a breach at travel site Orbitz exposed the payment card
information of 880,000 people.
The new chip cards, with the metallic square
on the front, provide an extra layer of security, but the technology doesn’t prevent all credit card fraud,
according to TransUnion, the credit reporting agency. In fact, billions of people lost data and millions of dollars
to hackers in 2018, according to USA Today.
So, what’s a consumer to do? Experts say educate yourself about how your personal information can be stolen—and take action to protect yourself from credit card fraud.
I only be worried about hackers stealing my credit card information?
While the headlines might blare the details of
data breaches, there are plenty of low-tech opportunities for con artists to
steal your credit card information.
Bankrate.com recently covered the five ways thieves steal credit card data.
Bad actors, for example, can place malware in software or public computers to
access private information. A waitress or retail sales clerk might use a tiny
device called a skimmer that stores your credit card information for their own
use with a quick swipe.
A team of fraudsters could work together to
secretly switch out a store’s credit card reader with one of their own, which
stores your credit card information. Another could attach a skimmer with
Bluetooth capability to a gas pump. It then sends payment information to a
nearby laptop for tricksters to use as they please.
And all these crooks can sell the payment card
information they get to other criminals online.
7 Tips to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud
While it may be impossible to completely protect yourself, the Federal Trade Commission offers some actionable tips that will go a long way to keep your credit card numbers confidential.
Here are 7 ways to protect yourself from credit card fraud, courtesy of the FTC:
- Store the account numbers, expiration dates and phone numbers for each credit card you hold, so it’s easy to find in case your card is stolen.
- Never share your card with anybody, including roommates, children or other family members. Keep them in a secure place even when you’re at home.
- Don’t give your credit card number to somebody on the phone unless you made the call to the business yourself and know that it is reputable.
- When out and about, don’t carry your cards in your wallet or purse. Store them separately, so if your wallet or purse is stolen, you’ll still have a card. At the same time, don’t carry all your cards at the same time. Only bring the one you need for that day.
- Watch your card during a transaction—and be sure it’s promptly returned to you.
- When signing a receipt, draw a line through any blank spaces above the total, if, for instance, you don’t plan on leaving a tip.
- Scan your bills as soon as you receive them or track them online to check for any purchases that you didn’t make. Report any unusual charges to your card issuer immediately.
Laws such as the Fair Credit Billing Act protect
consumers from having to pay for thousands of dollars of unauthorized charges.
The law limits your liability to no more than $50, according to the Federal
Trade Commission. And if you report a lost or stolen card to your credit card
company before it’s ever even used, you aren’t required to pay back any charges
you didn’t make.
In other words, vigilance might be the best protection against fraudsters, eager to rip you off.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free. Speak with a certified counselor for a free debt analysis today.