You work hard for your money, so it is important to keep track of it. One smart method to ensure the security of your money is to play it safe with your credit and bank cards. Read our 6 most effective ways for Canadians to prevent credit card fraud.
Keep an eye on your card
Luckily, most retailers and service providers are safe places to use your card. However, there are a few bad apples out there. Remember to always keep your eyes on your credit card when you are paying for services. If you card is out of sight, that gives an opportunity for dishonest people to copy your credit card information and the security code (commonly referred as CVV) on the back of the card.
Remember not to sign a blank receipt. In places where a tip can be written in, you can draw a line over that section if you do not intend any additional charges to be placed on the card.
Watch out for ATM skimmers
Skimmer devices, and more recently, shimmers, can be installed on ATMs or other payment machines to copy your card information. To avoid skimmers, take note if the keypad or card slot is loose or looks different or bulky. Also, small cameras are also installed to capture customers typing in their PIN codes. If a camera is pointing at the keypad – beware. Using your hand to cover when you type your PIN code can be a good policy in general. Remember: thieves need to see or record your PIN to complete their scam.
Shimmers are a bit trickier because there may be no signs of tampering. These are more sophisticated models of skimmers, and are installed inside the card slot and usually cannot be seen. To protect yourself, pay inside of gas stations whenever possible and avoid stand-alone ATM machines, especially in remote areas.
Consider a different payment method
Whenever you receive a new credit card, sign the back immediately. That way you do not have leave a “blank slate” for someone else to sign in case the card is lost or stolen. Along the same token, consider leaving credit or bank cards at home when they are not needed.
Near-field communication (NFC) methods of payment can be more secure than cards in some cases. The technology means that payment apps like Apple Pay and Android Pay cannot be “skimmed” like a physical card.
Monitor your accounts
Remember to always monitor your credit card statements for suspicious charges or transactions you cannot remember. Some people only check their accounts or card activities occasionally, typically when it’s time for payments. However, if you watch regularly it is more likely you can catch something early.
When there is something unusual, you can contact your credit card company or bank directly and ask what to do. Many times, there are specific fraud numbers to call in these cases. Have these emergency numbers at hand so you can act if there are any problems.
Beware of phishing
Fraudsters will do their best to catch you off guard. What better way than to pretend they are representing a reputable source and ask for key information? If you were not expecting to be contacted by this company, proceed with caution.
For example, if you receive a phone call asking for personal information. Ask the person for their name, department and return phone number. This is one step to help verify the authenticity. If they are hesitant to give this information or you are not able to call them back, there is probably an issue.
In any case, it should always be a red flag if you are being asked for your credit card number over the phone or via text message (if this transaction is something you didn’t initiate). Banks will not call and ask for your credit card number or PIN code. If they require that information, it is typically when you call in and you must key in the information to verify your identity.
Use common sense online
The first rule is an easy one: Only make purchases from websites and online retailers you trust. That means that your credit card information is more likely safe. Additionally, do not buy from a website that isn’t secure. You can see this by the “https://” beginning the URL (instead of just http://) and a lock or security icon showing in the URL bar.
The second rule is to keep your computer secure with an effective anti-virus and malware program. The more a malicious person can find out about you, the more damage they can do. Consider carefully before giving any personal data online that isn’t needed and do not click on any suspicious links – no matter who they are from, and how reputable it may seem.