Consumers are under the false impression that when there is credit card fraud, the credit card company will always let them know – right away. This is not always the case. The burden of fraud prevention fundamentally lies with the cardholder. A post by KrebsOnSecurity reports more than 30 million credit account records have been posted for sale on the Dark Web. The credit card accounts are linked to a data breach of the popular convenience store and gas station retailer, Wawa, from December 2019.
It’s easier than you think to be on top of keeping your credit card world safe and sound. By committing to regular self-monitoring and signing up for credit card alerts, you won’t have to worry about becoming a victim of credit card fraud and the nightmare that often ensues.
Here are some tips to help you keep track of your credit card alerts, closely monitor your online accounts, and protect yourself against identity theft:
- Check your credit card statement (paper or online) at least once a month. This will ensure that any reports you make of an unauthorized charge will be done in a very timely manner; do not put this off.
- Refrain from using your debit card. If a thief gets a hold of a debit card via a tampered card reader or hands-on (e.g., clerk takes your card out of sight to swipe it, during which he copies down its information), it will take longer for the stolen funds to return to your account, often times affecting your recurring payments and bills. Credit card fraud is usually easier and quicker to fix.
- An unfamiliar charge of $4.19 is just as suspicious as an unfamiliar charge for $750. Crooks start out by just getting their toes wet to see if the victim notices the suspicious charges and if there’s a charge notification alert in place. Question these charges the first chance you get.
- Use caution when using money tracking apps. Budgeting mobile apps help you keep your spending in check with access to your card information. They generally have bank-level security, but still susceptible to data breaches. Before downloading an app, read its terms of service. Know what data of yours it will gather (and this may even include photos on your phone) and if it will share it with third parties.
- Remotely disable access to your phone if it is lost or stolen. If your phone is not password protected, the wrong hands can access your financial and personal data to commit fraud.
- Freezing your credit is a great start to preventing new credit lines from opening using your name, but does not stop all identity fraud from happening if a criminal has access to your Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
- In one place, IdentityForce offers customized credit card alerts by individual bank and credit card account. You receive smart notifications when a charge, withdrawal or balance transfer exceeds a dollar amount determined by you. Help quickly spot credit card fraud and bank account fraud in one centralized place with alerts through the recently updated IdentityForce app.
In today’s connected world, relying on your credit card company’s fraud alerts or access to check your credit score, simply is not enough. Even if you, your family, your employees, your partners – essentially everyone you care about – haven’t been impacted by identity theft, the chances are it’s just a matter of time.
**Originally published December 15, 2016. Updated November 1, 2020.**