How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud
Every day countless consumers become victims of credit card fraud. Unfortunately (and likely influenced by an explosion in modern technology) instances of credit card fraud are on the increase. Luckily, there are a number of simple steps we can all take to lessen the likelihood of becoming victims of credit card fraud. This article will outline some of the key ways in which we can enjoy shopping without worrying who is looking over our shoulders - or lurking online.
Get your credit file and monitor acitivity
If you follow the tips below, then you should be able to avoid credit card fraud. But as a safeguard you can also monitor your credit file and keep an eye open for unauthorised activity or transactions which could alert you to possible fraud or identity theft. You could start here by seeing your own credit report.
The pin's the thing
Our pin numbers are supposed to be unique. They are supposed to be four seemingly random digits that are undecipherable to anyone other than us. Sadly, many people choose pin numbers that are easy to remember and therefore insecure. Popular choices include a date of birth or another memorable combination such as repetitive or sequential digits (think 1111 or 1234). The unscrupulous credit card fraudster is fully aware of the most popular pin combinations and won't hesitate to rifle through your wallet for clues. So forget memorable and think unique - higher numbers are more rare and less likely to be hacked. As long as your pin is a truly random combination of numbers, you can rest assured in the knowledge you have gone some way towards combating the likelihood of your credit card being used fraudulently.
Don't write your pin down
It sounds simple but many people commit their pin to paper and - worse still - slot the seemingly innocuous scribble into their wallet (even tucking them behind their credit cards!). If you really have to write down your pin number, try not to carry it with you when out shopping and keep it in a secure place within your home (preferably under lock and key).
Internet banking and online shopping are undoubtedly convenient methods by which we can manage (and spend) our hard earned cash. Credit card fraudsters know this - and many use technology to hack into our financial data. Always make sure your passwords are secure - and by secure, we don't mean memorable! Your password should, ideally, incorporate a random selection of numbers and letters, preferably with higher and lower case letters. Secure passwords commonly contain more than five letters - with eight to ten considered optimum in terms of password security.
Keep your personal details personal!
We simply cannot stress the importance of keeping your personal details secure when using the internet. Don't divulge any unnecessary information about yourself anywhere online - least of all on social media networks. Credit card fraudsters use these platforms to research potential victims and unfortunately many people make it easy for them to do so. Keep your date of birth, full name, address, employment details and (obviously) bank details personal. This information is commonly used by banks for verification of user identification and, if it’s all easy to view online, you can be assured it's accessible to a savvy credit card fraudster.
Invest in a shredder
Actually, you don't need to go out and buy a shredder to dispose of personal mail however, you do need to find some way of making your post undecipherable to prying eyes. A pair of scissors works perfectly, or a well torn credit card statement. Whatever you do, make sure any letters with your details on display are destroyed prior to being placed in the bin.
Be aware when out shopping
If you are on a shopping spree, it can be easy to lose sight of your credit card - especially when you hand it over to the shop assistant. Keep your eyes on your credit card at all times - there is no need for any shop assistant to take your credit card away from the counter.
Only shop on secure websites
Internet shopping is quick, convenient and above all - fun! However, not all shopping sites are equal. If you are a keen internet shopper, only ever pay for goods on websites which use a secure server. If you can, read reviews about a site before committing your details - it should give you a good indication about whether a website is 'trustworthy' or not.
Invest in anti-virus and anti-malware software
Any good credit card hacker will be fully aware of the vulnerabilities associated with different websites, particularly those which require personal details for transactions. There are a range of viruses online which can track key strokes and hackers use these viruses to hack and copy personal data for nefarious purposes. A good anti-virus or anti-malware package will 'catch' any suspicious viruses lurking on a browser before they have a chance to do any damage - and could save you hundreds of pounds.
The methods used by credit card fraudsters are becoming ever more sophisticated. However, if you follow this advice, you can rest assured you will have lessened the likelihood of becoming a victim of credit card fraud.