Credit Cards with Pinecone, Wreathe and Bow for Credit Card Fraud

Credit Card Fraud: 14 Tips to Protect Yourself This Holiday Season

We’re taking a break this year from our recycled gift guide to remind you of things you can do to protect against credit card fraud.  But if you’re looking for gift ideas, check our posts from previous years.

Other sites which often have recycled and “green” gifts are www.atwestend.com, www.uncommongoods.com, and www.etsy.com.

While some of you will brave the crowds, perhaps even caught up in the excitement of gift buying, others may be shopping from the cozy comfort of their homes. Maybe it will be a bit of both.  However you shop, take a moment to review these 15 tips to protect against credit card fraud this holiday season.  You certainly don’t want to be filling credit card thieves stockings!

Take Precautions Against Fraud Before You Head Out the Door

Never share a photo of your credit card on social media. If for some reason you do need to take and send a photo, as I recently did (story for another day), do not send it through public wifi and delete the photo as soon as it is received by the recipient.

Reduce the risk of fraud by blanking out the security code with a permanent marker. The security code is only required for telephone and online transactions.  Memorize or store them securely and  black out the code.

Limit the risk of fraudulent charges if your card is stolen by not signing your card. You can’t leave it blank as the thief will just sign your name with his/her signature.  There are two options.  You can write “see id”, which I do.  More and more sales associates are checking the back of cards and requesting ID.  The second option is to black out the signature space as described above, which I have not tried.

Leave those credit cards that you know you won’t be using at home in a safe place. Remember where you “hide” them!

Guard Against Credit Card Fraud When You Shop

Keep an eye on your card at all times and make sure you get it back before you walk away. It’s easy to forget when you’re distracted when you’ve been standing in long lines, wracking your brain for the “perfect” gift , trying to remember who you’ve forgotten and picking up a “last minute” item at the  last minute.

Be aware of someone distracting or bumping into you while you’re paying. They may be attempting to grab your card, see your pin or pickpocket you.

Be Vigilant Against Credit Card Fraud When Shopping at Home

Save your receipts and compare them to your statement. If you can’t be bothered by those scraps of paper, at least check your statement carefully.   Often fraudsters will charge a small amount to see if it’s detected before making a major purchase.

Report any questionable charges immediately. If the charges are fraudulent, you are only responsible for the first $50 if reported immediately.  Your liability jumps to $500 if it’s reported between days 2 and 60.

Defend against a dumpster diver by destroying your old cards and pins. If you have a home shredder that includes a credit card shredder, use it!  If you don’t, cut it through the information horizontally and then vertically into smaller pieces.  I then take the extra precaution of putting some in the trash one week, the rest the following week.

Don’t give your credit card information to anyone over the phone unless you called them.

Shopping on line? Always look for the “S” in the web address:  https://.  The “S” stand for secure.

Never make a purchase, or provide any financial information, over public wifi, which is not secure.

If You’re Traveling…

Notify your card issuer if you will be traveling during the holidays.   If charges show up outside your usual spending area, it’s a red flag and your charge my be denied.  While this protects you against fraudulent credit card charges, you’ll protect yourself from embarrassment if you notify them ahead of time.

Check gas stations and ATM’s for “skimmers.” They capture and store your information for retrieval by the thieves at a later time.    They may not use the information themselves, but instead sell it on the dark web, making it even more difficult to trace.

And even though Small Business Saturday was two weeks ago, remember you still #ShopSmall and “BuyLocal. Gift certificates to local restaurants, hair and nail salons,  car washes and bakeries all make  great presents.

Have a safe and joyous holiday season and a healthy, happy new year!