6 Ways to Guard Against Credit Card Fraud

Written by , September 20, 2012

6 Ways to Guard Against Credit Card FraudCredit card fraud continues to be a significant problem throughout the U.S. Even though financial liability is limited for any unauthorized activity on an account, dealing with the fraud can cost a significant amount of time and stress.

Furthermore, a compromised credit card account can sometimes be an indication of a larger threat to financial security – identity theft. So while there are a number of legal rules in place to protect consumers, it’s essential that one takes charge and does everything possible to guard against credit card fraud.

Here is some credit card advice on six relatively pain-free ways to protect against credit card fraud.

  • Physical Security. It’s much more likely that you’ll become a victim of credit card fraud due to someone gaining access to your physical card rather than having them steal our personal information in some other way. Make sure your credit cards are always kept in your wallet or purse when you’re not using them.
  • Leave Most of Your Cards at Home. Many of us have multiple credit cards accounts, even though we might tend to use only a single account on a regular basis. If you have credit card accounts that you don’t use frequently, leave those cards at home, preferably in a secure location like a locked fire safe or filing cabinet.
  • Use Cash. Sometimes you might dine in a restaurant you’re not familiar with or that you don’t entirely trust. This often happens when traveling, but it can happen close to home too. If you don’t feel entirely comfortable handing over your credit card at such an establishment, use cash instead. In fact, it’s probably worth getting in the routine of carrying enough cash to handle just these types of situations.
  • Don’t Shop Over Insecure Internet Connections or Websites. If you shop over the Internet, make sure that you provide your credit card number over a secure connection, and to a website that follows industry standards with respect to protecting your information. If you don’t feel comfortable at a particular website, shop elsewhere.
  • Watch Out for Skimmers. Credit card skimmers – small devices that are placed inside credit card swiping devices – can steal your credit card information even when the card remains in your possession the entire time. One of the most common targets is self-serve gas station pumps. If you notice the credit card swiper looks different, or you have difficulty fitting your card into the swiper, notified the attendant immediately and call your credit card company.
  • Actively Monitor Your Credit Card Account. If you wait until the end of your billing period to see the past month’s activity on your account, you might not discover unauthorized activity until a significant amount has already taken place. If your credit card company allows online access to your account, check your balance at least a few times throughout the month to make sure it’s what you expect. If possible, set up “activity alerts” so that you receive an e-mail or text each time a charge is made.
  • The more information you have about what’s going on in your account, and the more attention you pay to your card and how you use it, the safer you’re going to be.

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