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Protecting Against Credit Card Fraud

You wake up in the morning and check your text messages, emails and catch up on the posts your friends added on social media throughout the night. Before getting up, you decide to check one more app, your bank. Much to your surprise, all of your money is suddenly gone from your checking account and your recent transactions show purchases from stores in a state that’s 2,000 miles away. Does this sound familiar? Credit card fraud can happen in many ways and takes place every single day. You won’t always be able to stop it from happening, but there are steps you can take to make it harder for someone to get access to your card numbers. Back in 2016, nilsonreporting.com stated that by 2020, credit card fraud worldwide will reach $31.67 billion in losses. It’s important to monitor all of your financial accounts regularly as data networks of many retailers can be breached.

Many credit card companies have features that are designed to help protect you and your purchases from fraud. One example, is the new chip that is embedded on new credit cards, called the EMV chip. Although this chip makes your transactions more secure, it still hasn’t solved the fraud problem completely. The Federal Trade Commission suggests following a few practices as part of your daily routine to keep cards and account numbers safe. Keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates and the phone number to report fraud for each company in a safe place. Avoid lending your card to anyone and make sure to shred all your cards, receipts and statements, before throwing them away when you no longer need them. If you only plan on using one specific card for an outing, carry only the one you need and carry your cards separately from your wallet in case someone steals your wallet or purse. This also applies for the phone cases that double as a card holder. If you lose your phone or it gets stolen, your credit cards and possibly ID will be gone with it too. Also, keep your eye on your card during a transaction and make sure to get it back before walking away.

Here are 4 steps that you should follow if you are a victim of credit card fraud:
Call your credit card company immediately

As soon as you realize your card has been stolen, lost, or you notice unauthorized charges, call the card issuer right away. Many card issuers have a toll-free number and 24 hour service to help you in these situations. The FTC states that “once you report the loss or theft, the law says you have no additional responsibility for charges you did not make”. Major card issuers also have “zero liability” policies to make sure that you won’t be responsible for charges you did not authorize. However, if your credit card company does not have a zero liability policy, your liability for credit card fraud is limited to $50 under the Fair Credit Billing Act. You will most likely be issued a new card and have an investigation opened once you call the card company to report the fraudulent charges.

Check your credit card accounts and change your passwords

You should immediately check all of your other credit card accounts to make sure they have not been compromised. You should also change all of your passwords and pins as you can never be sure how exactly the fraudster stole your information.

Notify the credit bureaus and call the police if you need to

If you notice a pattern of fraudulent charges, or notice multiple cards or financial accounts that are being used without your knowledge, contact the three major credit bureaus and request a credit freeze. After that, call the police to file a report, and the police can open an investigation. Serious identity theft can occur if your informations is stolen, allowing the thief to open utility and credit accounts in your name.

Monitor your credit reports and statements

Continue to monitor your credit accounts for a few months. If additional information was stolen, such as login credentials, it’s possible that fraudulent charges can appear on your statements months later.

Check all of your online shopping accounts

Many shopping sites let you save your credit card information to facilitate future purchases. You should make sure your cards have not been compromised. In case your shopping account is not secure, it’s a good idea to remove the compromised card, any other stored cards and change your passwords.

Credit card fraud will continue as long as we continue to use credit cards. In order to tackle credit card fraud, follow these steps as there are many tools to help you if you are ever a victim. Regular account monitoring, choosing strong passwords and changing them frequently, and securing your credit cards can help you prevent becoming a victim of credit card fraud.

Check out this video on the Keeping it Real with Credit YouTube channel on tackling credit card fraud:

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