Tips to Prevent Credit Card Fraud

Credit cards and debit cards provide a lot of convenience. You no longer have to carry currency notes to make any purchase. With so many online shopping portals around, you may not even have to leave confines of your home to make a purchase. However, credit and debit cards come with a lot of responsibility too. And I am not just talking about financial prudence. With credit cards at least, you need to make sure that you do not live beyond your means. Apart from this, you need to guard against a credit card fraud too. To defraud you, a fraudster needs your credit card details. Such information could be used to create a clone card or perform a fraudulent transaction. And there are many ways to get your credit card information. Credit card swipe machine may be tampered with to store your card details. Under other ways, fraudsters prey upon your lack of awareness and negligence and you end passing your card information inadvertently to the deceivers. Needless to say, you need to guard against such credit card (or debit card) frauds. Your hard earned money is at risk. In this post, I will discuss a few ways to prevent credit card frauds.

  1. Do not share your credit card or debit card PIN with anyone. Change your PIN regularly. Your PIN should not be easy to guess.
  2. Mask or scratch CVV when you receive your credit/debit card. Of course, memorize it before doing so.
  3. Cover the machine while entering your PIN.
  4. Do not share your credit card/debit card details with anyone or over e-mail or phone. Even though you have two factor verification (CVV and One-Time Password) for online transactions on Indian websites, you need only credit card number and CVV to transact on foreign websites. Hence, it makes more sense to safeguard your credit card number, PIN and card expiry date. Credit card number and expiry dates are typically engraved. Therefore, you can’t do much about those. However, CVV can be easily hidden by scratching the number and by using a permanent marker.
  5. Do not leave your card unattended at petrol pumps or restaurants. Accompany the concerned person while the card is being swiped. I understand this may not be so easy at social gatherings in restaurants but you need to take care.
  6. Though I am not a technology expert, if you notice any tampering to the ATM machine or credit card machine, do not swipe your card.  It could be a skimmer device. For more on skimming, suggest you go through following article on PCMag.
  7. Update your phone and e-mail details with the bank to receive transaction alert messages. Ensure that you update your primary e-mail and phone numbers. I know a few infrequent users of credit cards who update their secondary e-mail ids with the bank. The entire purpose is lost if you do not read transaction alert messages. Hence, pay heed to messages or e-mails from your banks.
  8. Exercise discretion while using your credit cards or debit cards. Desist from swiping your credit cards in shops in remote areas or on petrol pumps on highways. Use cash instead at such places.
  9. You may get a phone call or e-mail (phishing/vishing) from fraudsters pretending to be your bank. The e-mail or phone call will be about blocking your card, expiry of reward points or any other reason to create urgency. Do not rush to disclose your credit card details; instead disconnect such calls. Fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated these days. This MoneyLife article explains how smart scammers are targeting unsuspecting customers. Your bank will never ask for any credit card details over phone or e-mail. Your bank may ask for your date of birth, pin code or e-mail id to confirm your identity but nothing beyond that.

For Online Transactions

  1. Do not go to your bank website by clicking on link you received in an e-mail or in a SMS. Open the browser and type in the bank website URL yourself.
  2. While doing online transactions, do check the URL in the browser. Make sure you have https instead of http.
  3. Inform your bank when you are going abroad. Inform the bank about departure and arrival dates.
  4. Do not use credit/debit cards to transact on public computers. Use your credit or debit cards only on personal desktops or laptops.
  5. Update your Anti-virus software regularly and run computer scans regularly.
  6. Use Virtual keypads instead of keyboard to enter passwords or PIN.

On Mobile Phones

  1. Many of us install anti-virus software on our desktops and laptops. How many of us do that on our mobiles? If you use your mobile phones to pay online payments, do install anti-virus software on your mobile.
  2. Do NOT install mobile apps left, right and centre. Many of us do not think twice before installing a new mobile app and granting it access rights. This should be avoided. Unless you are sure about the credibility of the developer, do not install such apps. Best way to avoid this is to install only well known or popular apps. Or install an app after you have read its review on a trusted website or a popular magazine. Or install apps from trusted developers. Do note a few developers may try to pass off their apps as original (by using a similar name or using a trusted logo). By installing untrusted apps, you are not only exposing yourself to credit/debit card frauds but also to data theft.
  3. Many prominent shopping websites offer discounts on purchases made from mobile applications (and not desktops websites). In such cases, I would suggest you load up digital wallets such PayTm  or Freecharge from desktop websites and make payments using such apps.

After Fraud

As soon as you get to know of a fraudulent transaction or notice any suspicious incident, call your bank and block the card. Drop an e-mail too for record purposes. Personally, I do not prefer to make payments from my mobile. I may browse and select on the mobile application but make the payment on my desktop. There is nothing right or wrong. I am just more comfortable with making payments from my desktop. It is a personal choice. It is your money. You need to take steps to ensure that you do not lose it to a fraudster. This is not an exhaustive list of actions you need to take to prevent a fraud but this will most certainly reduce the chances. I am not against plastic money. Credit and debit cards can provide great convenience. However, you need to be cautious or else you risk losing your hard earned money.

Additional Useful Articles

  1. Economic Times: Credit, debit card frauds and how you can avoid them
  2. MoneyLife: Scamsters duping people in the name of ICICI Bank NRI Services

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