With millions upon millions of Americans carrying around a credit card, many often don’t think twice when they swipe that piece of plastic. Sure, while most credit card companies won’t hold you liable for purchases you didn’t make, that doesn’t mean the scam artists can’t take advantage of you.
What you have to understand is that when a bad charge shows up on your statement, it can be a pain in your butt to get rid of it! What happens if you don’t even see it? You just paid for something you didn’t even use. With that being said, here are six fantastic ways to avoid credit card fraud:
#1 Are your credit cards safe?
If you plan on using your credit card in a high trafficked area, always make sure that your cards are either kept in your wallet or if you’re a female, it’s best to keep it inside of a zippered purse. That way, if you do encounter a professional pickpocket thief, they probably won’t attempt to unzip your purse.
Aside from keeping your credit cards safe, always make sure that you keep a maximum of two credit cars on you. That way, if something does happen, you won’t have to contact 10 different credit card companies.
#2 Draw a line through the blanks – Don’t get scammed
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and notice the tip line on the receipt with the total line underneath it? Well, if you leave that blank, what’s going to stop the waiter or waitress from putting a number and adding it to the total? Yes, it could get them fired but most people won’t notice that $1 or $2 difference.
As you could see, that $2 could add up over the night if the waiter does it to a handful of receipts. Always make sure that you either put a $0 or a line through so nothing can be written down. If you don’t think people do this, you may want to think again!
#3 Watch The Online Merchants – Use a Virtual Number
Yes, the only way to buy something on the web is by your credit card. The next time you plan on purchasing something, don’t use your regular card number. Instead, what you will want to use is what’s known as a, “virtual card number.” This number will be tied to your account, but instead of using your regular number, it will be a temporary number that only lasts for 24 hours. After one purchase has been made, the number will expire. That way, if someone does get a hold of your number, they won’t be able to do anything with it.
TIP: When using an online merchant, always make sure that they are using technology known as, “SSL.” This will ensure you that your number is going to be encrypted when it gets processed. To know if the website is encrypted, simply look for the yellow lock on address bar.
#4 Stolen Cards – Report Immediately
When it comes to stolen cards, I have an amazing trick that can work wonders for you. As I mentioned early, always make sure that you only carry around a maximum of two cards. This should include one debit card and a normal credit card. Before you place this card in your wallet, you will want to check the back of the card for a toll-free customer service number. Take that number and store it on your phone.
So if you have a Citi Bank card, you would write something such as, “Citi-1800xxxxxxx” in your contacts. That way, if you do lose your card, you can call up that number right away and report the card stolen. The faster that you can do this, the quicker you can deter the thieves from having a hay day with your card.
Another Tip: Consider making a copy of your card front and back. Store this in a fireproof safe where you can access the information later if you need to.
#5 Watch Your Information Closely – Use Common Sense!
Try to make it a habit to never write down your credit card number or spill it out in public. I can remember one time when a lady in the library was talking with someone over the phone. She was talking to someone and she had to give them her credit card number.
As I was studying, I could only think that I could easily write down all of her information right now and do something with it, but since I’m not a soon-to-be criminal, I decided against it. With that being said, just use your head. Don’t yell out your card number, don’t write down the number and ALWAYS shred your documents with any credit card information. Ripping them in half won’t do the trick.
#6 Set Up Alerts – Take Advantage Of Technology
Ah, isn’t technology great? I don’t care how old you are, you should be taking advantage of it because it’s only going to help you in the end. With many of the larger credit card companies out there, you can set up alerts that will let you know when your card is being used. Of course, you can alter the options so that your phone doesn’t buzz every second of the day. For cards that are in your wallet, you may want to set up text or email alerts to let you know when your card is being swiped. It’s always best to be safe than sorry!
About the Author: Hannah is the manager of Howmuchisit.org – a wonderful resource that helps you find the prices on just about anything in life. If you want to reach out to her, send her a Tweet @howmuchforit.