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Published on September 8th, 2013 | by Pete

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Protect yourself from credit card fraud, on- and offline

Many of us now have a credit card – and they are a great payment method for a number of reasons. Firstly they help to build a credit rating, they allow you to borrow and they boost consumer protection. If you use a comparison service you can get a good deal on a low interest card, allowing you to manage your money effectively.

But it’s important to be aware that wherever there’s money to be had, there’s a thief pondering on a way to get at it. As we all know, credit cards are no exception. For every technological advance in credit card security, there’s a too-clever thief to figure out a way around it. Interestingly, in recent years the highest rise in credit card fraud has been in the area of ‘old-fashioned’ deception schemes. Credit card security technologies have finally stymied many would-be credit card scammers, but deception that preys on human psychology to deceive is as old as humans themselves.

Debit and credit card fraud peaked in 2008 when banks reported £610 million in losses. Since then, technological security advances cut fraud losses significantly—by a total of 38 per cent by the end of 2012. However, from 2011 to 2012 fraud rose again by 14 per cent. The organisation Financial Fraud Action UK attributes the uptick to a rise in deception crimes.

Becoming a victim of credit card fraud can have long-term consequences for one’s credit rate. If the fraud goes so far as to become identity theft, the consequences can be extreme.

As with so many things, an ounce (or more) of prevention goes a very, very long way when it comes to protecting yourself from credit card fraud.

General tips to protect your credit card details

• Invest in a shredder, or otherwise destroy all documents that cite personal financial information.
• Don’t tell anyone your card details or PIN.
• Never write down your card account numbers, passwords, log-in details, or PINs.
• Banks and police officials will never ask for your credit or debit card details over the telephone or by email. Never give out your card details over the phone or email in response to a request purporting to come from your bank or the police.
• Take the time to register your cards, either with Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode.
• Whenever you have to enter your PIN, use your free hand to cover the keypad to prevent onlookers or secret cameras from capturing the details.

Protect your credit cards online

• To navigate to an online shopping site where you wish to make a purchase, type the address of the site into your Internet browser. Do not follow a link to the site. The same holds true for online banking.
• Avail yourself of every security measure your bank offers for online transactions.
• Only make online purchases at sites that offer a secure purchasing environment, labelled with a padlock or unbroken key icon.
• Never leave the browser window open after making a purchase online.
• Always print your purchase receipt, or take a screenshot of the purchase confirmation if you don’t have easy access to a printer.

Protect your credit cards offline

• Never take your eyes off your cards when making a purchase or withdrawing cash at an ATM.
• If you make a purchase over the telephone, do not release your card details unless you made the telephone call and you know and trust the company.
• Take special care using your cards outside the UK, especially in countries that do not use Chip and PIN technology. Balance the risk of credit card theft with the risk of carrying cash or travellers cheques.

This video explains more about how to avoid becoming a victim of credit card fraud.

Stay aware of current deception schemes

An informed consumer is a safer consumer. Be proactive and take the time to learn about current deception schemes and questionable companies. Action Fraud is operated by the National Fraud Authority. You can find information about current scams, questionable companies, and additional stay-safe tips on its website.

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2 Responses to Protect yourself from credit card fraud, on- and offline

  1. Great tips. Credit cards (especially with rewards) can be a great tool in increasing wealth.

    However, there are many steps we need to take to ensure that we stay safe with credit cards and this post sums it up brilliantly!

    One often overlooked is: “Only make online purchases at sites that offer a secure purchasing environment, labelled with a padlock or unbroken key icon.”

  2. Pingback: The definitive guide to credit card jargon | My Blog

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