How to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud

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By: Aquib Nawab


1 - Check your statements regularly

Get in the habit of carefully reviewing every transaction on your credit card statement each month. Look for any charges you don't recognize or that seem suspicious. Even small unauthorized charges could indicate your card information has been compromised. Report any potential fraud to your card issuer right away to limit losses.

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2 - Shred sensitive documents

Identity thieves look through trash and stolen mail to get personal information. Always use a cross-cut shredder, not just a strip shredder, to destroy any documents containing personal or financial details before disposal. This includes pre-approved credit offers, old receipts, bills, bank statements, expired cards, etc. Shredding reduces the risk of dumpster divers stealing your information.

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3 - Protect your cards

Always keep your credit cards in a safe place like your wallet or purse. Never leave cards lying out in the open where they could easily be stolen, such as at a restaurant or hotel room. Also, do not lend your cards to anyone else to use. You are responsible for all charges, so keep cards with you at all times. If a card ever goes missing, report it to the issuer immediately.

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4 - Shield the keypad

When using your card at an ATM, gas pump, or retail checkout counter, cover the keypad with your hand or wallet as you enter your PIN number or zip code. This prevents hidden cameras or prying eyes from seeing your sensitive information. Also, stand close to the keypad so others can't view it. Be aware of your surroundings.

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5 - Shop secure sites

Only shop online at secure sites that encrypt data transmission to protect your information. Look for "https" in the URL (the extra "s" is important) and a small lock icon in the browser bar. Do not enter card information on sites that don't have these. Check that the site is legit and read reviews before purchasing.

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6 - Beware of scams

Ignore calls, emails, texts or mail claiming there is a problem with your account and requesting personal information. This is likely a scam known as phishing. Legitimate banks and card companies won't ask for details like your full card number or social security number over the phone or in messages.

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7 - Limit card use online

Consider having one credit card that you use exclusively for online shopping transactions, if you make a lot of online purchases. This way, if the card data is ever stolen, your other accounts remain protected. Also, it limits tracking of your other spending.

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8 - Use credit, not debit

You'll have more fraud protection with a credit card than a debit card in most cases. With fraudulent credit charges, you aren't out real money while the case is investigated. With stolen debit cards, funds could be drained from your bank account and be hard to recover.

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9 - Set transaction alerts

Many credit card providers allow you to set customized notifications to alert you of certain types of transactions, such as online activity or purchases over a threshold dollar amount. Being notified in real time makes it easier to identify and report unauthorized charges quickly.

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10 - Check your credit report

Get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every 12 months. Review all accounts and activity to catch any unknown credit cards or loans opened in your name. If you spot errors or signs of fraud, report it immediately and dispute it with the credit bureaus.

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