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Beyond the Chip: Protecting Yourself From Credit Card Fraud

September 2016

credit-cards11Your credit card goes everywhere you go. It’s a necessity. And whether it’s your go-to method of racking up airline miles, or used more sparingly, as a kind of safety net, there’s no denying how powerful that little plastic card can be, especially in the wrong hands.

A security breach to your credit card is a stressful, invasive, and even frightening ordeal, and because of our ever-evolving technological world, the ways to prevent theft are changing too. The new EMV chips in our cards were specifically designed to enhance security at check-out, but like all first measures, especially in terms of security, it shouldn’t stop there.  And while advice like keeping your wallet in your front pocket or inside an inner-compartment of your purse is still relevant, it’s a bit like locking your doors but not locking your windows, or installing an alarm system in your home and not arming it. It’s only half the battle.

With as many as 10% of Americans reporting as victims of credit card fraud, now is always a great time to reassess and check out the latest tips!

Check your accounts often

Whether you’re banking online, by the phone, or in person at your local branch, it’s important to check your accounts regularly. Not only will this help you discovery fraudulent activity as early as possible, but you’ll also begin noticing trends in your spending. Not only is this a good financial habit to develop, but the more familiar you are with your transactions, the easier it is to notice the little things that don’t belong. After all, someone in possession of your credit card will likely not want to draw attention with huge purchases, using the card on smaller items—at gas stations, supermarkets, and online websites. 

Don’t give out account info over the phone…

…unless you’re 100% sure who you’re talking to—that is, if it’s a number that you called, or it’s a company that you trust.

This one’s a classic, and it might seem like common sense, but many phone scammers do this sort of thing for a living, and have gotten pretty good at sounding legit. If you have any suspicions about the authenticity about the company or the inquiry, it’s never a bad idea to decline and do some research before going forward with the transaction.  

Be careful of the information you save on your smart phone

These days, smart phones have become just as essential to everyday life as our credit cards, and many shopping and banking apps allow you to save your login information to allow easy access. This can be a huge convenience, especially when you’re trying to scramble your brain to remember which passwords go where, but when it comes to shopping or banking on your phone, it’s probably worth it to commit your login credentials to memory—especially if you don’t password-protect your phone (but really, you should!) After all, if your phone gets lost or stolen, you’re going to have enough stress and disorientation without worrying if someone has access to your banking info.

Contact your bank immediately if something seems fishy

Another obvious trip, but it’s better to be safe that sorry. Requesting a card’s cancellation and replacement is usually a pretty painless process. If you notice a strange payment on your card statement, or have any reason to believe your security has been hacked, it’s always a good idea to play it safe and call your bank right away. Yes, you might have to deal with those excruciating holds, but what’s a little muzak when it comes to keeping your identity secured?