How to avoid credit card fraud
As online shopping becomes more popular with savvy consumers around the world, an unwelcome side-business has also increased in activity: credit card fraud.
And while credit card fraud is certainly not limited to the online marketplace, internet users experience more than their fair share of dodgy transactions every day.
There’s no way to completely protect your credit card details when shopping online, but there are plenty of things you can do to minimize your risk.
Your first step towards protecting yourself against credit card fraud is quite straightforward: be extra, extra careful when using your credit card online. This means never inputting your credit card details unless you’re certain the website is trustworthy and reputable. Most online check-out systems allow you to pay via third party processors such as PayPal, which offers an extra layer of protection against credit fraudsters, so consider using these wherever possible.
Also, you should not respond to emails that ask you to follow certain links and enter confidential information – even if the site may appear to be a trusted, for example eBay or Amazon. Fraudsters have been successful in developing sophisticated websites and software that looks just like the real thing, so always assume that the link can not be trusted. Instead, shut down the window and open another browser, type in the web address manually, and carry on with your transaction this way.
It’s prudent to remember, as well, that emails are not secure, so you should think very carefully before sending credit card information via email.
Having said this, you should bear in mind that the internet can also prevent you becoming a victim of credit card fraud. If you check your bank balance online regularly – you should, ideally, at least once per week – monitor your transactions and identify any unusual purchases early on. When you receive your monthly statement in the mail, you should also cross-reference it with your receipts.
In an offline environment, never let your credit card out of your sight. Skimming – where credit card details are copied, and then duplicated onto new cards – is becoming more and more common, but there are steps you can take to minimize this risk.
If you’re in a restaurant, for example, don’t hand your card over to the waiter; instead, walk up with him or her to the cashier and hand over your card yourself. If you’re in a high-end restaurant and you’re embarrassed about transacting this way, apologize and tell the waiter that you’ve been the victim of credit card fraud in the past, so you prefer not to let your card out of your sight. It’s better to be embarrassed for a few minutes, then to find out that thousands of dollars worth of transactions have been illegally charged to your card!
What if your account has been compromised?
If you suspect illegal transactions have been charged to your credit card, inform your card provider immediately. They will immediately cancel your card and issue a fresh card, to prevent any further transactions from being applied. Also, if they investigate and do find that unlawful transactions have occurred, your account will be reimbursed.