Credit card fraud, identity theft and other financial scams are widespread these days. For instance, GOBankingRates reported on a study that found that 23% of participants in a poll had been victims of credit card scams the year before.
These scams are a major problem — and credit card providers know it. While many people unfortunately still fall victim to them, credit card issuers are taking steps to help prevent them.
Will credit card fraud ever become a thing of the past? It seems unlikely, but these resources can significantly cut down on the number of people who fall into the trap of credit card fraud.
If you have ever used your credit card while in a foreign country or made a large purchase, you may have accidentally triggered your credit card’s automated fraud monitoring. Major banks have systems that constantly monitor their customers’ transactions and learn their spending habits.
While that can feel like an intrusion of privacy, it’s for your protection. If you make a purchase that doesn’t match your spending habits, it’s possible someone has gained unauthorized access to your banking information and made a purchase in your name. In those cases, the bank will let you know right away via email or text message and decline the purchase if you don’t recognize it.
Fraud Prevention Guides
People lose a lot of money to credit card fraud. The FTC’s estimate says that credit card fraud losses totaled $149 million in 2020. Nevertheless, people don’t always know how to spot a fraud attempt and when to alert their bank. To help with this problem, some banks have guides to help their customers spot fraud attempts.
For example, Chase has a financial abuse guide that provides warning signs and how to protect yourself. Bank of America has a fraud prevention checklist of seven things you can do to prevent fraud before it happens. We all have to stay vigilant, and these guides can help.
Lock and Unlock Card
There might be times when you want to lock your credit card to prevent fraud. For instance, maybe you realize you lost your credit card. Or perhaps you figure out after the fact you might have just been scammed by someone online.
These things happen, and credit card providers often allow you to lock your credit card temporarily. If you lock your card because you think it’s lost but end up finding it later, you can easily unlock the card and resume using it.
Credit card providers often have free credit monitoring tools on their websites. While these tools are a great resource for helping you raise your credit score, they can also be useful in preventing fraud. One form of financial fraud, identity theft, sometimes results in an unauthorized person opening a credit card or bank account in your name.
When that happens, you might see a new account on your credit card you don’t recognize. This could be a sign of fraud. Schwab’s identity theft checklist lets you know what to do if you think your identity has been stolen.
Two-step verification can be a simple, yet effective way to prevent fraud. Most of the time, you probably access your bank’s website or app with the same few devices in the same locations. When your bank detects a login attempt that falls outside your usual behavior, it might require two-step verification, even if your login details are correct.
You have probably seen this before when you had to enter a four to six-digit code you received via email or text message. While it can be a minor inconvenience at the time, it protects you because a fraudster would also have to gain access to your email or phone in order to successfully log in. Usually, these codes expire after five to 15 minutes, making that very difficult to do.
Whether you will be traveling a few states over or to the other side of the world, you can alert your bank so that you don’t trigger its fraud monitoring while you are there. That being said, some banks, such as Chase, have developed systems that don’t require you to notify them of travel plans. Still, it’s worth investigating whether your bank recommends indicating your travel plans to prevent any issues using your credit card while traveling.
Website and Mobile App Encryption
Website and mobile app encryption secures your connection, which helps prevent hackers from intercepting it. Encryption refers to the fact that the data is scrambled, meaning that even if someone were to gain access to it, it would be unreadable without a key to decrypt it.
Most websites and mobile apps are encrypted these days — especially those that deal with sensitive information, such as banking and medical data. However, this extra layer of protection is another step to keep out hackers and other bad actors.
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