In this e-age, you hear about e-frauds just about everywhere, and the infamous viruses ranging from the Anna Kournikova worm, The Melissa virus, The Blaster Worm, Netsky and Sasser, OSX/RSPlug Trojan, Storm worm down to the ransomware attack, have left the common folks worried about their cyber safety.
When it comes to credit cards, things are none different - once you apply for credit card, you get access to a world of possibilities. A credit card can not only help you in making payments, but it can also help in improving your credit score. If you make the payments on-time and use your card wisely, you can improve your credit score by leaps and bounds. However, if the card is misused due to negligence or fraud, your credit history and score can be severely affected. Hence, it is important that you avoid being a victim of credit card fraud too.
Recently, I had been a victim of credit card fraud, and it forced me to pen down this post, and spread a bit of awareness in the fraternity, especially amongst the young entrepreneur, and newly-employed fresh graduates who know very little about such mishaps.
Here are 7 tips that will help you in avoiding the common credit card frauds -
1. Do not disclose your credit card info – You should never disclose your card number, security code, expiry date and other details of your card to anyone. These details can be used to make fraudulent transactions and so you need to make sure that no one has access to them. Even if you get calls from people claiming to work for your bank, do not disclose your card info to them.
My granny had recently received a card, and being not-so-tech-savvy she disclosed info, and fraud transactions worth Rs 20,000 were carried out - I was lucky just to be around, and quickly block those transactions, and recover Rs 15,000, but I still couldn't do much about an unknown Rs 5,000 charge. I even tried filing a dispute, but it was of very little help.
2. Keep your card safe at all times – It is very important that you keep your cards safe and away from the reach of other people. Place your cards in a bag or wallet close to your body so that it cannot be easily snatched away. If you use a purse, make sure that it is properly zipped so that the cards do not fall off from your purse. Also, instead of carrying all your debit and credit cards with you all the time only carry those that you need.
3. Be cautious when using your card online – When you use your card to shop online, be careful and make sure that you only use it on websites that are legitimate and offer SSL encryption security for online payments. If the site does not provide adequate security, your card information can be stolen and the same can be used for identity theft or for making fraudulent transactions with your card.
Moreover, be very cautious with recurring subscriptions, because if you get charged by any merchant after a year, for a recurring subscription created by them, the bank won't really come to your rescue, and you'll be forced to pay. I had to recently pay about Rs 1.6 lakhs of bills, due to some web hosting recurring charges billed on my card - again it was my negligence that I hadn't canceled those recurring subscriptions. I finally decided to utilize those services to somehow make use of that money, but it was like a forced purchase, and I'd strongly advise all of you to be really careful in this regard.
4. Keep a track of your account – Opt for mobile and email alerts to keep a track of your credit card account all the time. In case of any unauthorized use of your card, you can report it to the bank immediately. You can also access your account online through electronic banking and make sure that you are aware of all the transactions made with your card.
At times, these credit card providers keep levying wrong charges on your account - so, it's critical to keep an eye on such things, and ensure that you're not forced to pay even a penny extra unnecessarily.
5. Keep your PIN safe – When you swipe your card at merchant outlets to make payments, you will need to provide a 4 or 6 digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) to authorise the transaction. Make sure that you do not share your PIN with anyone or write it on any piece of paper as it can be stolen and misused.
It's a really bad habit to keep your PIN on the notepad of your laptop/cell phone because it can be easily accessed and misused by someone, be it a stranger or your close buddy!
6. Shred your statements and other documents - Shred your credit card statements and all other documents that have your card information on them. Your account information can be accessed online and all other details will be available on your card. Even if you forget your password, user ID or PIN you can get them reset by contacting the customer support team of your bank. Hence, it is important that you shred all possible documents that include information about your card - NEVER keep your card details written, along with PIN at a single place - not even your email, WhatsApp or SMS!
7. Inform the bank if your card is lost or stolen – In case your card is lost or stolen, call the card issuing bank immediately and inform them about the same. The customer support representative of your bank will then guide you to get the card blocked so any unauthorized use of your card can be avoided. The representative will also inform you about the steps you need to follow to get a new card.
Luckily, whenever I've lost my card, I've reported it immediately, and have never been a victim of this case, but I know of friends who've lost money as their stolen card was misused. Once again, the premium cards come with theft insurance, so it's recommended to have that in place.
Apart from the above aspects, you should also ensure that the supplementary cardholders use their cards wisely and are aware of the procedures they need to follow to safeguard your account against fraud. Furthermore, it's highly recommended to put a safe limit on add-on cards for your children/elder people, so as to minimise the risks.