It happens to a lot of people. Its probably happening to you right now and you don’t know it. When is the last time you checked you credit card statement? Did you closely scrutinize it? Notice any funny charges on it? Maybe it’s time you went back and read it with a tooth-comb. You could be the victim of credit card fraud.
So what is credit card fraud and how do you protect yourself from being a victim?
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud can simply be defined as the malicious use of your credit card by an unauthorized person to pay for goods or obtain favors, with your credit card being the source of funds. In most cases it’s a precursor to identity theft, where a malicious individual usurps your documents and legal persona and pretends to be you. They do this to obtain funds illegally or conduct questionable business/personal transactions in your name.
In most cases, credit card fraud starts with the unauthorized person getting your credit card or account information. How they use that information could mean ruin to your credit score and ultimately financial life. It’s worse if it goes unchecked for long periods of time. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from credit card fraud and secure your financial data.
Keep Proper Financial Records
Good financial records are not just the purview of small businesses. As an individual, proper financial records come in handy when you are reconciling your credit card statement with your expenses. Without the records you cannot be sure whether the transactions reported was yours or a fraudulent charge.
Monitor Your Credit Card Accounts & Statements
At the end of each month when you receive your credit card statement, take the time to go through it and confirm that all the transactions listed were conducted by you. Otherwise, you can access your card statement online and reconcile all the transactions cataloged. Online access gives you a hawks-eye view on your finances. You can immediately notice any funny transactions.
Keep Cards and Records Safe
Credit card fraudsters are after your financial information. They go to great lengths to acquire it. Keep your cards and financial records in a secure place. Only carry the card you often use when travelling. You might also want to separate your wallet and credit cards and reduce the chance of someone accessing your cards when your wallet is stolen. More often than not, preventing credit card fraud is a matter of awareness when you using your card.
Don’t give your credit card information over the phone. This is more so if you are not sure of the person or the organization you are dealing with. Verify they are who they say they are and only deal with reputable organizations.
It’s also sensible to only enter your credit card information on secure and reputable websites when transacting online. Refrain from sending your credit card information in emails, instant chats or other internet channels unless you are sure of the organization or the person you are dealing with, and even then, do it with caution.
Shred Sensitive Financial Documents.
Buy a shredder and periodically shred outdated financial documents, cards and details that you no longer use. Credit card fraudsters may obtain your financial information by rummaging through your trash. By shredding, you reduce the likelihood they will obtain any sensitive data that may lead to credit card fraud or identity theft.
Avoid credit card fraud by practicing safety in the way you handle your credit cards and financial information. This includes being aware of your surroundings, when you use your cards, and immediately reporting stolen or lost credit cards. By taking simple measures you stand a better chance of preventing card fraud and safeguarding your financial life.
Have you been a victim of credit card fraud? How did you deal with it? What other measures can we take to fight against credit card fraud? Share in the comments!