How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud

Most of us use our credit cards for everything from filling the car up with gas, to buying groceries, to making our charitable contributions and paying our bills. Credit cards provide a tremendous convenience by saving us time and making it easy to track our expenses. However, your credit card is always at risk of theft from online and offline scammers.

To ensure the safety of your credit card information, follow these tips.

1. Use a Credit Card with Fraud Protection

One of the safest ways to protect your bank account is by using credit cards with fraud protection. Most credit cards companies will now protect you from having to pay for charges made by a spammer or theft. Although you may be charged a small amount, many companies limit your liability to $50. If you have a credit card that limits your liability to fraud, it can eliminate a significant amount of financial stress and headache if your information is ever compromised.

2. Keep Your Credit Cards Safe

Don’t leave your credit cards sitting around where they can be easily seen or taken. Keep them in your wallet or purse, and on your person at all times. Furthermore, only keep the one or two necessary credit cards with you at any time, leaving the rest secured at home.

Cellphones make it easier than ever for thieves to steal your credit card number without you ever knowing. After taking a picture with their phone, someone else can use your credit card – while you still have it on you. Therefore, keep your card secure at all times.

3. Regularly Monitor Your Statements

Almost all credit cards allow you to access your statement online at any time. Therefore, it is a good idea to check your statement every few weeks to ensure that no mysterious purchases are showing up. The sooner that you can catch a fraudulent purchase, the less of an impact it will have on your financial security.

Some of the most successful credit card scams are ones where the thieves limit the charges to around $20/month. This makes the charges easy to miss because they don’t stand out. However, a $20 monthly charge can end up costing you a lot if you don’t catch it right away. Therefore, always find an explanation for any purchase that you do not recall making.

4. Limit Who You Give Your Credit Card Information To

Giving your credit card to your kids, friends, and co-workers can result in unwanted charges and awkward conversations. Therefore, only give your credit card to people who you know that you can trust, and make sure that you remember to whom you gave your credit card.

Furthermore, when making purchases, most merchants should not need to write down or copy your credit card information. With the prevalence of internet accessible devices, even flea market merchants and door-to-door salesmen should be able to scan your card with their phone using PayPal or Square. If the merchant absolutely must write down your information, make sure that you know how to contact them if you end up having any questions or concerns.

5. Report Lost Cards and Strange Activity Immediately

Always remember what cards you have in your purse or wallet at any given time. The moment that you realize a card has gone missing or discover strange activity, call your credit card company. The sooner that your credit card company is informed about what is going on, the more financially protected you will be.

If you closely monitor your credit card and quickly report any issues, you can minimize your risk of credit card fraud.