Millions of Americans fall victim to credit card fraud every year. The Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council (IRTC) has tracked over 1,150 data breaches in the U.S. since 2019 alone – with banking, credit, and financial records accounting for 62% of those breaches. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to stay protected against credit card fraud.
10 Best Ways to Avoid Credit Card Fraud
Here are ten of the best ways to stay protected against credit card fraud and theft:
1. Don’t Keep Credit Cards in Your Wallet
The easiest way to keep yourself safe from credit card fraud is by keeping your credit cards out of your wallet. Mobile wallets – also known as digital wallets – are becoming increasingly popular as more businesses now accept these digital payments.
Adding a credit card to a digital wallet is simple, saves you time when making purchases on the go, and can add an extra layer of security to protect you from data thieves.
2. Update to a Credit Card with an EMV Chip
EMV chips are also gaining popularity in the United States. These chip and pin devices provide added protection to purchases – both online and in-store. Although an EMV chip isn’t a guarantee of safety vs. an old magnetic strip card, it is an extra layer of safeguarding that can make a real difference.
3. Check for Skimmer Devices
Credit card skimmers are a real threat to all Americans with credit or debit cards. A skimmer machine is a device that fits over the payment keypad on ATMs, gas pumps, and other locations.
Credit card skimmers are designed to capture your credit card information, including your PIN. Once your information is recorded, the thief has everything they need t access your credit card or bank accounts. The result may be thousands of dollars in damage.
The easy way to spot a credit skimmer is to wiggle the keypad, card slot, or another reader. Skimmers fit over an existing card reader and number pad so that wiggling will alert you to any additional hardware. Also, ensure that the graphics and colors of all parts match up.
4. Don’t Just Throw Away Credit Card Receipts and Statements
Never toss your old receipts or bank statements into the trash without shredding them first. Your statements and bills reveal a lot of information about your accounts and can help a thief in the credit fraud process. Stay protected against credit card fraud by shredding or burning all unwanted receipts, statements, or bank records.
5. Opt Out of Paper Statements
Instead of destroying paper statements, why not opt in receiving online statements instead? Getting your credit card statements via email removes the paper trail – and it’s environmentall-friendly. Just make sure you update your email passwords regularly.
6. Have Strong Passwords
Speaking of passwords, make sure the ones you use for your credit card logins are secure. The best way to keep your card accounts protected is by creating a strong password.
There are several ways to create a robust password. The easiest is by using a password generator. Many mobile phones offer to create a secure password and then save it for you. Google Chrome also provides this feature (if you are signed in to a Google account).
A strong password should be long, with a complex number sequence, and no easily decipherable words.
7. Destroy Expired Credit Cards
Like credit card statements, always destroy old, expired credit cards. Cut through the card number, your name, the CVV security code, the magnetic stripe, and your signature. Cut the card into small cubes. Pay special attention to the previously mentioned data or anything else that features sensitive information.
8. Shop Online at Trusted Websites
Only use your credit cards online when shopping at stores and sites you trust. Always check for the website’s SSL Certificate. This certificate will display as a closed lock on Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. If you have concerns about an online retailer, do your research first – and give your credit card information last.
9. Don’t Sign Blank Receipts
Some businesses may ask for you to sign a blank receipt before accepting your credit card. This is likely the case with places like bars, for example, for opening a tab. If an employee asks you to sign a blank receipt, refuse. A blank receipt opens you up to potentially fraudulent charges you didn’t make.
10. Update Your Address as Soon as You Move
Moving? Already moved? Either way, make sure you update your address with your credit card issuer ASAP. Updating your contact information ensures your bank sends your information to you – and no one else.
Credit card theft and fraud are a reality Americans must safeguard against daily. Fortunately, there are several simple steps you can take to keep yourself protected from credit card fraud. Keep your sensitive data secure, change your password frequently, and be vigilant to the signs of fraud and data theft. While credit card fraud is scary, common sense is your best tool in the fight against financial crime.
Related Article: 5 Steps to Take Immediately After Credit Card Fraud