The following is a guest post by Brett Chatz who is a contributor to CFD trading company – Intertrader. If you would like to write an article for Money Q&A, please visit our Guest Posting Guidelines page.
Protect Your Plastic from Criminals
The widespread usage of credit cards has given way to a thriving underworld of criminal syndicates. Fraud is more prevalent today than ever before, and the technological sophistication employed by fraudsters is becoming increasingly more advanced. Protecting your credit cards is important, since they offer you all the convenience of a cashless banking system.
For the most part, credit card management is really a no-brainer – yet millions of credit card frauds are reported every week. The priority is the protection of your credit card details, and the integrity of your financial information. Once either of these has been compromised, potential fraud can ensue.
How to make your credit card safer?
Nowadays, most folks have several credit cards in their wallets. These include American Express, Diners Club International, Visa, MasterCard, Discover cards and frequent-flier credit cards etc.
However there are also many in-store credit cards offered by major retailers such as Target, Macy’s, Staples, Gap, Nordstrom and others. As you might imagine, protecting all of these cards takes some doing.
For starters there are things like PIN numbers that need to be assigned to each of the cards, and they need to be kept separate from the credit cards themselves. Banks always inform customers to immediately sign credit cards that they have received on the back signature panel. This is to ensure that any cards that are intercepted prior to being received by the intended recipient are not used fraudulently.
Contrary to popular opinion, credit card fraudsters do not need physical possession of your card to perpetrate fraud. All they require is the card number. To minimize your risks of fraud, do not give out your credit card number to anyone telephonically – unless you initiated the call.
The same goes with e-mails and other snail mail requests for your credit card number. Another way to ensure that your personal financial information is not intercepted is to request secure e-mail statements as opposed to regular mail statements.
If you prefer a paper statement, be sure to file them away safely, or shred them once you have perused them and made payments. People are increasingly mobile, and this mobility also presents an opportunity for fraud.
Be sure to inform your bank or financial institution of your moving date and your new address. That way your statements will be mailed directly to you.
Other details to check up on include your current mailing address, telephone number/s and names on your shared accounts. Things like divorce, separation, death and other issues need to be factored in when you have joint credit card accounts.
Best Practices for Credit Card Safety
When you go shopping or sit down at a restaurant to eat, be sure to fill in precisely the amount you wish to have charged to your card. All receipts should always be cross-referenced against the statement at the end of the month to ensure that you have not been overcharged by merchant.
Many of us nowadays utilize online systems to make payments and receive payments. As such, it is imperative that your firewalls, anti-virus programs and security systems in place are up-to-date and functioning correctly. Or necessary security updates need to be downloaded and installed, and Trusteer Rapport is recommended to ensure that fraud protection is in place. On the issue of e-mails, never download software from sources that you do not recognize.
Further, never respond to e-mails from a purported bank that requires you to enter your credit card number or other personal identifying information. With online shopping it is always recommended to only shop at merchants that have HTTPS in their URL. This means that they are secure sites.
There is nothing better than vigilance when it comes to managing your credit score, credit purchases and credit card accounts. Regularly check your account information and immediately report discrepancies to your bank to have them resolved ASAP.
Fortunately, most banks today offer credit card protection facilities designed to protect all customers against unlawful use of credit cards. If at any point you do notice fraud has taken place, immediately called to cancel your card and your bank will only be too happy to issue you a new one.
Brett Chatz is a graduate of the University of South Africa, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with Economics and Strategic management as his major subjects. Nowadays Brett contributes from his vast expertise for the globally renowned spread betting and CFD trading company – Intertrader.