While technology has helped millions of people to simplify their lives, it has also created a vast array of opportunities for fraudsters to access private information.
Identity fraud is becoming more common in the United States, with more than 4 in 10 Americans reporting fraudulent charges being made on their credit cards each year. During 2019, the Federal Trade Commission reported that credit card fraud was the most commonly reported form of identity theft in the United States overall. Such a high incidence of this type of fraud is costly, with 1 in 5 victims losing money that they have been unable to retrieve.
However, in response to these rising numbers of credit card fraud, consumers and companies have reacted with proactive solutions to prevent credit card holders from being on the receiving end of false credit card charges. While it is pivotal to know how to react the moment you spot false charges on your card, there are many ways that you can proactively prevent credit card fraud.
Here is a brief guide to preventing credit card fraud from happening to you.
Threat- Unsecure webpages
It goes without saying that the majority of shopping now takes place online.
However, to an untrained eye, it can be tough to spot if a webpage is not secure, and thus easier to hack and access those all-important credit card numbers.
Solution– Look at the web address of each site before you enter your credit card information. Secured webpages begin with HTTPS, nonsecure web addresses begin with HTTP. Also, take note of a padlock on the left side of the address bar; if there isn’t one, it is best to avoid entering any personal information.
Threat- Password access
While it may seem an additional pain to have to remember an array of passwords for different web pages, it is the easiest way to prevent identity thieves from accessing your information. If you use the same password for different websites and one suffers a security breach, thieves may attempt to log on to other websites using the same information.
Solution– Use different passwords for different webpages. If you find it difficult to remember all your passwords, write them down in a book that you keep next to your computer.
Threat- Saved information
Similar to the issue of using the same password for various webpages, many consumers are unaware of the risks of saving their credit card information with their favorite shopping pages.
For instance, if you regularly purchase goods for your business through a specific page, it may seem easier to just ‘auto-fill’ and save the card information to speed up future purchases. But, as you have no control over your retailer’s cybersecurity, this can present an immediate issue if the webpage is hacked.
Solution– Manually enter your credit card information with each purchase and do not allow the webpage to auto-save your details.
Threat- Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi access is a great resource if you are waiting for a business email while having lunch in a coffee shop. But, at the same time, if you want to purchase an item using the coffee shop’s public access, this can allow fraudsters to scan the data that goes between your computer and the public router. Also, some thieves set up a Wi-Fi network with similar names to public access, so they will have direct access to any information related to purchases.
Solution– Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should avoid public access Wi-Fi altogether. Instead, use a VPN, or virtual private network to keep all of your credit card and bank account information safe from potential online thieves.
Threat- Phishing emails, phone calls, and texts
While credit card companies and banks run advertisements warning customers about phishing emails or phone calls, many people still fall prey to them. Why? Because phishing fraudsters have become smarter and are more able to disguise their emails and phone conversations.
If you regularly purchase items over the phone, it is important to be clued in on spotting a false phone call. Fraudsters will often call you, demanding that you make payment then and there, whereas legitimate businesses will typically send an email or letter asking for payment.
Solution– Never give out your credit card, bank, or any other financial account information over the phone unless you are completely sure that the person you are giving it to is legitimate. If you are not initiating the transaction, or the person on the other end seems aggressive, this is a red flag to take note of.
If you have received an email or text message from an alleged company demanding payment, do not respond and contact your credit card provider or bank for instructions on how to proceed.