Credit card fraud is on the rise around the world. Fraud-related losses from all card types — credit, debit and prepaid cards — reached $21.84 billion in 2015.
Most losses occur via counterfeit cards used at ATMs or point-of-sale terminals. Fortunately, federal law states that credit card users are not liable for more than $50 in fraudulent charges to their credit cards if they report the charges to card issuers within two days of learning about them.
But that does not remove the financial risk. Fraud can be costly when banks or cardholders don’t detect it right away. Here’s how to prevent credit card fraud:
––Avoid saving payment data with online retailers: Often, people save payment information with online retail stores in exchange for faster checkouts. Doing this puts them at risk of becoming a fraud victim.
Credit card information is stolen via data breaches and hacking. When buyers allow their payment information to be saved on a web server, they are at the mercy of the website’s security standards.
Even large companies have been victims of security breaches. Poor encryption, coding and security training are some of the elements that put a buyer’s credit card information at risk.
Once the thieves or hackers obtain credit card information, they can use the numbers to purchase products of online stores. In many cases, card numbers are used for several months after being stolen.
When there is a security breach at a company, it is better to request a new card immediately, even if there is no suspicious activity on the card.
––Check credit card statements regularly: Credit card users sometimes don’t read through their monthly statements, and they think credit card fraud is always obvious. Instead, the purchases can be small, and this makes them hard to detect without the appropriate level of attention.
Some people also assume that banks always catch fraudulent activity. While computer algorithms that catch online fraud have improved over the years, they still have faults. For example, some small regional banks and other financial institutions may not be as quick to notify their clients of suspicious activity.
––Consider credit cards with EMV chips: Over the years, credit cards have become a lot more secure with the introduction of EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) cards. These cards have embedded microprocessors that make credit cards harder to replicate compared to old magnetic strip cards.
However, not every credit card today has an EMV card chip. Request a new credit card with a chip if your issuer starts updating its credit cards.
EMV chips don’t guarantee absolute protection, so it is still important to be vigilant when using credit cards.
––Beware of credit card skimmers: A credit card skimmer is a device designed to steal information from a credit card with a magnetic strip. These devices fit over credit card slots on ATMs and payment machines.
Once the card information is collected on the device, thieves can download the skimmer information to create a clone of the card, which they can use for fraudulent activities.
To protect credit cards from skimmers, it is important to become familiar with the look and feel of ATMs. Check the ATM and all areas around it for an unusual or loose appearance. Report anything unusual immediately to police.
––Report losses and fraud: The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recommends that people who suspect fraudulent activities should contact the bank that issued the credit card as soon as possible.
In the U.S., as soon as a credit card user reports suspected fraud, he or she typically becomes liable for no more than $50 of the unauthorized charges. Notifying the card issuer to report fraud ensures the compromised card is immediately blocked and you are not liable for further charges made.