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Credit Card Fraud: How to Keep Your Information Safe

09/01/2019

Credit Card Fraud: How to Keep Your Information Safe

Credit Card Fraud: How to Keep Your Information Safe

If you’re a credit card holder, chances are high that you will become a victim of credit card theft at some point in time, if you haven’t already. You can take all the right precautions and scammers may still be able to access your information. However, the more you know about what credit card fraud is, how it happens, and what you can do to protect yourself can help keep both your finances and your identity safe.

  1. What is Credit Card Fraud?

Credit card fraud is a specific type of identity theft in which someone uses your credit card or card information to make a purchase that you did not authorize. Card-not-present fraud (CNP fraud) occurs when your credit card number, PIN, and security code are used to make a purchase without the scammer needing your physical card.

Nearly three million cases of identity and credit card fraud were reported in 2018, with 799 of those reports made in Montana and 338 made in Wyoming. In 2015, EMV (Europay®, Mastercard®, and Visa®) cards began to replace traditional debit and credit cards. EMV cards are more secure than traditional cards because account information stored on the computer chips is uniquely encrypted every time the card is used. While EMV cards have helped reduce card-present fraud since 2015, scammers have gotten better at committing CNP fraud, which has increased over the past few years.

  1. How Does it Happen?

There are many ways a scammer can access and steal your information, and some of them are more simple than you might think. Many times, a scammer won’t steal your information directly— they’ll breach a company where you’ve used your credit card. These breaches target the entire company, which means you and thousands or even millions of others can have their information stolen at once.

Credit card skimming can happen at any time, and you likely won’t even know that it’s happened until you notice fraudulent charges on your account. A credit card skimmer is a small device that captures your information while you’re making a legitimate transaction, and can be secretly placed over the credit card swipe at gas stations or ATMS.

Scammers can also take advantage of public Wi-Fi networks and trick people into installing a “software update” on their computer, when in reality, the “update” is malware that can monitor your keystrokes or send screenshots containing your information to the scammer. Although a little less discreet, scammers have also been known to contact people via phone, email, or text, pretending to be the credit card issuer’s fraud department and asking to verify their personal information.

Finally, scams still happen the old-fashioned way, in which a scammer will steal your physical card. Be sure to never leave your credit card out, and always make sure that it is securely hidden from view.

  1. My Information Was Stolen— What Now?

If you notice any transactions on your statement that you did not authorize, contact your credit card company immediately. Depending on how soon you report the fraudulent activity, you may not be required to pay any of the charges. Your card will be shut down immediately to stop anymore possible fraudulent transactions. After reporting the stolen information to your credit card company, continue to keep an eye on your account activity. Finally, once you receive your new card make sure to change your automatic monthly payments (i.e. TV streaming services, gym membership, etc…).

  1. How Can I Prevent Credit Card Fraud?

Always be aware and on guard at all times. Here are a few tips to help you protect your information:

  • Always keep your purse or wallet securely with you— never leave them in your car or anywhere else unattended.
  • Never carry your social security card with you.
  • Only purchase online from reputable companies or websites— look for an “s” in the https at the beginning of a website address. This indicates that any data sent between your browser and the website is encrypted.
  • Instead of signing the backs of your cards, write “ask for photo ID”. While it isn’t 100% foolproof, it can help minimize the risk of your card being used by anyone other than you.

Becoming a victim of credit card fraud can’t be completely avoided, no matter how careful you are. Always exercise common sense when purchasing online, never give out your information over the phone unless you initiate the call and know that the company is legitimate, and keep your cards secured at all times. If your Valley credit or debit card is stolen, we’re here for you! You can report a lost or stolen card during or after business hours. If you have any questions about credit card fraud, call or stop into your local branch today to visit with one of our knowledgeable member representatives!

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