There are key things you can do to help protect yourself against credit card fraud.
Watch your credit card like a hawk
Keeping a close eye on your credit card is a key step towards preventing fraud, especially when you’re travelling. Always make sure you have your credit card with you and don’t let it out of your sight when making purchases on it.
Check your credit card statement
The same is true for your credit card statements - watch them like a hawk. Always read your credit card statement line by line, making sure you recognise each transaction, and check in on your balance online every few days, or whenever you log in. If there’s anything suspicious, contact your bank immediately.
Make sure your PIN is unique and hard to guess
You should always create a different PIN for each of your cards, and never use combinations of numbers that are easy to guess, such as your birthday or wedding anniversary.
Don’t save your card details when shopping online
Online stores often give you the option to store your credit card details for future use. Always say no.
By saying yes, you’re allowing your credit card details to be entered into a database somewhere, but you have no idea what steps (if any) the company is taking to protect your personal information. Don’t do it.
Do your research before buying goods online
The great thing about the internet is you can find out just about anything online. If you‘re wondering if a site is dodgy, chances are you can find reviews from other shoppers. It’s also worth checking Google News for any mention of the company.
Don’t give your details out over the phone
Never give your credit card details out over the phone unless you’re 100% sure of who you are talking to and where the money is going. If you are called by a bank or a respected charity, don’t give your details until your have contacted that organisation separately and verified that they have called you. Double check any phone numbers or emails the caller has given you to verify identity.
Check for ‘https’ at the start of web addresses
The s in https stands for ‘secure’. If you see this at the start of a web address, you know that all communications between you and the retailer are encrypted. If a site doesn’t start with https, be very wary about shopping there.
Avoid online shopping or banking via public wifi
When you log in to public wifi, you don’t know how secure the connection is. There are dozens of online tutorials teaching hackers how to compromise public wifi, so you be wary of entering any personal information while connected to it.
For the same reason, it’s never a good idea to access your email on public wifi.
If using public wifi is an integral part of your life, consider using a VPN (virtual private network) to create a network within a network, keeping everything you do encrypted. Just make sure to buy your VPN software from a reputable supplier.
Keep your virus protection software up to date
Speaking of software, it’s really important to protect your devices with virus protection software, and keep that software up to date.
Never throw out anything with your credit card number or address on it without shredding it first.
Yes. fraudsters really do go through people’s rubbish looking for personal information. Enough said - get a shredder.
Go the extra mile to protect your email account
Stop and think about just how much of your personal information is stored in your email account, just via day to day interactions. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to protect your email account with 2-factor authentication. This means you’ll need one other piece of information as well as your password to access your email - usually a code sent to your mobile phone.
Be alert at ATMs and when using EFTPOS
Be aware of credit card skimmmers. This is where criminals use a small device (a skimmer) to steal your card information from an ATM or when you’re using a portable
Have a close look at the ATM before you use it - is there anything unusual about it? Does the card slot or keypad look different than usual? If you detect any signs of tampering, don’t use the ATM and report it to the bank.
When using EFTPOS, don’t let your card out of your sight. Skimming usually requires the merchant to enter your card into a second card reader, so be vigilant to ensure it is used only once.
What to do if you’re a victim of credit card fraud
It’s really important to contact your bank as soon as you notice fraudulent transactions. All credit card providers have to provide “zero liability” protection, which means that you will not be held liable for any fraudulent activity on your account.
There are certain exceptions to this though - and one of them is if you delayed notifying the bank. So get in touch right away. Some banks also offer the option of placing a temporary hold on your card via their mobile app.
Finally, if we were to sum all this advice up in one simple idea, it would be "constant vigilance".