These days, most of us use our credit or debit cards for daily transactions. It doesn’t matter if the purchase is as large as a flight booking or as low as a single bottle of green tea – we pull out our cards because it’s fast and convenient.
I mean, who really fumbles around with cash nowadays anyway? Well, yeah, maybe if you’re using a vending machine – haven’t seen credit card slots on those yet (although I’m sure they exist).
The thing is that we’re so used to swiping our cards, buying online, and handing our card to strangers when buying something. None of us ever thinks that something could go wrong – until we become victims of credit card fraud.
So instead of waiting to become a victim of credit card fraud – take action now by following these 7 preventative measures:
#1 Activate Your New Cards
Whenever you receive a new credit card in the mail, don’t just let it sit for days along with the rest of your bills and/or junk mail. Take it out, activate it (online or call, whatever is easier for you) and sign the back.
The last thing you want is to lose track of it because in a pile with the rest of your “junk” mail – because we all know where junk mail ends up. And the last thing you want is for your credit card to end up in the hands of someone else.
If you think that someone might not be able to activate it, you’d be surprised – chances are you’ve got enough personal information floating around online (Facebook?) for someone to write your biography.
Plus, the mail you’ve just tossed out might have some pretty important data, which leads to item #2.
#2 Shred Your Old Credit Cards & Statements
Throwing away important documents – especially your bank and credit card statements is one of the most dangerous things you can do. You should be filing away such information, not tossing it out.
If you’re tired of receiving your mailed statements, most banks now offer e-statements, which are easier to manage – just make sure you’re practicing good online security habits if you are taking the electronic storage route.
Worst case, if you must toss out such data – shred it first! No, crumpling up such documents isn’t enough, nor is tearing or cutting them up with scissors. If you seriously want to protect yourself from thieves who will use your “trash” against you – shred all such documents.
#3 Make Sure Transactions are Made in Front of You
Whether you’re using your credit card at a restaurant, retail establishment, club or bar, make sure you’re following your card wherever it goes.
Because you want to make sure that your card is being swiped at the establishment’s cash register and isn’t disappearing into someone else’s hands (or being used to make purchases while you’re not looking).
This tip is especially important when you’re travelling abroad as credit card scams (especially credit card “skimming”) are becoming more common.
#4 Keep All of Your Receipts and Check Your Statement Regularly
It’s a hassle, I get that. If you make five or more purchases a day with your credit card, going through a ton of receipts isn’t going to be fun business.
However, this is the only 100% sure way to make sure that your credit card is being used ONLY for the purchases you make.
Plus, when you compare your receipts to the amount shown on your credit card statements, you can easily discover, rectify or dispute any charge that seems out of place on your statement.
Checking your receipts against your statement is especially useful if you make plenty of online purchases, as you might find price discrepancies between what you agreed to pay online and what’s being shown on your statement.
#5 Never Give Your Credit Card Number Out Over the Phone or Through Email
Banks, retailers and government organisations will NEVER call or email you asking for your personal information – especially your credit card number!
I don’t care if the man or woman on the phone is very nice or the email looks official with the right logo and “legit” template – it’s a scam.
Seriously, there’s no “what if” when it comes to this one. No legitimate institution will ever ask for your credit card over the phone or in email, ever. So don’t do it, not matter how legitimate the call sounds or the email looks.
#6 Always Inform Your Bank if You Change Your Address
Moving from one place to another is a huge hassle. But one of the first things you should be doing when you confirm a new rental agreement or home purchase (that you’ll move into in 30 days) isn’t figuring out which mover you’ll choose – but getting your address changes in order.
Your bank should be near or at the top of your list of people and organisations to inform about your new address.
That’s because the last thing you want is for your credit card and bank statements to be “lost” in the mail or mailed to your old address where they can end up in anyone’s hands.
#7 Always Use Account “Alerts” For Your Credit Cards
Do you ever sit at your work desk wishing you could be somewhere else? We all do that. But when your credit card happens to be used in China or the United states and you’re still sitting around in Singapore – it’s kind of a big hint that your credit card has been compromised.
Thankfully, many credit cards offer “alarms” that send you an SMS or email whenever a charge over a certain amount is made. Some credit cards even offer alerts that send you an SMS/email alert for every charge made on your card.
That’s great because it gives you time to call up the credit card issuer and dispute any “funny” charges made to your card.
Final Note: If you’re looking for even more helpful information about credit cards, don’t forget to take a quick look at our MoneySmart Learning Center.
Also, for a quick and easy comparison of the best cash back, air miles, rewards, and shopping credit cards out there, make sure to visit our credit card comparison page.
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Tags: Credit Cards