Tips for Minimizing Credit Card Fraud Risk

Credit card fraud is at an all-time high. Unlike in the past, recent spikes in fraud reports haven’t all been associated with reported data breaches. Today, credit card data is being stolen in ways that can go undetected by the fraud tracking organizations for long periods of time.

Soon the US will be joining its European counterparts in moving to the more secure chip-based card technology known as EMV (named for its backers, Europay, MasterCard, and Visa). As banks, merchants, and consumers prepare for the transition, the bad guys are in high gear thinking up new and ever-more creative ways to take advantage of cardholder vulnerability before the window of opportunity closes.

What Can You Do?

The following guidelines provided by the FTC outline simple steps you can take immediately to minimize your risk of becoming a victim of credit card fraud:

  • For each card, keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates and the phone number to report fraud for each card issuer in a secure place.
  • Don’t lend your card to anyone.
  • Shred cards, receipts, and statements before throwing them away and never leave them sitting around your home or office.
  • Before giving your account number to anyone on the phone, research the company online to ensure it is reputable if you’ve never done business with them before.
  • Carry your cards separately from your wallet to minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse.
  • Only carry the card you need for the occasion.
  • Keep a close eye on your card during a transaction and make sure you get it back before you walk away.
  • Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.
  • Save your receipts and reconcile them with your printed or online month-end statement as soon as it is available.
  • Report any questionable charges immediately to the card issuer.
  • Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling out of the country.
  • Notify your card issuer immediately if your card is lost or stolen. Many companies have toll-free numbers and 24 hour fraud reporting service. Once the loss or theft is reported, you have no additional responsibility for charges you didn’t make.