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6 Fatal Mistakes that Make You Susceptible to Credit Card Fraud

July 31, 2018


There is no doubt that with every passing day, cyber criminals are becoming more and more ubiquitous. In the last five years alone, at least 1 in 4 consumers have been a victim of credit card fraud. However, this is not simply due to the availability of sophisticated malware and the growing expertise of fraudsters; it is also in some part because of the risky behavior exhibited by consumers. Given below are a few habits which increase the chances of a credit card owner being duped by cyber criminals.

Perhaps the most common of all risky behaviors is the tendency of credit card users to throw bank or other account-related paperwork in the trash. After all, since these documents do not contain complete account numbers, login information or passwords, there’s no way a thief could use them to defraud you, right? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. Often, fraudsters use seemingly unimportant information, such as name, address, and/or telephone numbers, to get payment information from credit card holders. For example, a criminal may impersonate an employee of your utility company and, citing missed payments, may trick you into revealing your credit card information. Or, someone could simply pretend that they are calling from your credit card company and use the information on your bank statement, like your last few transactions, to bypass the normal identity questions used by your financial institution. To avoid such instances, you could opt for e-statements. Else, just make sure you run all such documents through the shredder once you are done with them.

Another common mistake that consumers make is that they allow their browsers to memorize their favorite websites and use the same password on all their accounts. So, in case an individual loses his laptop, or a thief breaks into his home, it becomes easy for the criminal to obtain access to all of the user’s accounts. To prevent this, it is important to clear your computer's cache on a regular basis, and use strong, unique passwords for each separate financial account.

You must also refrain from using unprotected systems, internet links, and unknown e-commerce websites to shop. Sometimes, instead of selling merchandise to a buyer, shoddy online shopping portals obtain their credit card information, and use it to siphon money from their accounts. Using public Wi-Fi’s and unencrypted websites can also be dangerous. They can be easily hacked to obtain sensitive information.

In today’s age, smartphones are increasingly used by consumers as mobile wallets. They and contain not only mobile banking apps, but also critical information - such as which financial institutions the consumer does business with. Thus, leaving a smart-phone unlocked can prove to be catastrophic, especially if it falls into the wrong hands. A thief may not only access your mobile app and use it to transfer money and order replacement cards, but he may cancel or lock you out of the accounts. Thus, to protect yourself, you must put in place a system that enables your phone to lock itself, even if it is idle for just a few minutes. Additionally, try to set up a remote wiping capability that you can use if your phone is lost or stolen.

This habit may surprise conscientious credit card users. Many consumers still write their PIN down and carry it in their wallet along with their credit card, thereby making a pick-pocket's job seem like child’s play. Although most credit card issuers tout zero liability policies in cases of fraud, this may not include ATM and PIN-based transactions. And even if you have coverage, you may have to wait for at least two weeks to get your funds reimbursed, during which time you may fall behind on payments resulting in late fees and overdraft charges. This is why you should always memorize your PIN instead of writing it down. Also, make sure that you shield your typing hand whenever you enter your PIN in a terminal – this will ensure that skimmers don’t get access to your information via any camera that they may have installed.

Finally, make sure that you avoid responding to emails, texts or calls that ask you for sensitive information, as this may be a criminal trying to defraud you. Often, fraudsters pose as employees from your financial institution and claim that your account has been frozen due to fraudulent activity. They insist that you must tell them your personal details to unfreeze it. In such cases, a better approach is to simply hang up and call your issuer on the number listed on the back of your card. More often than not, you will find that the original call was from a criminal, and not legitimate.

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Ari Page Ari Page is the CEO of Fund&Grow. He resides in Spring Hill, Florida with his wife and two children.

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