Credit card and identity fraud hit an all-time high in the last year, with nearly 17 million people affected by it. Not everyone is able to get every dollar back from a fraud issue or a data breach.
Even if you do get it all back, there are plenty of headaches involved if you haven’t done adequate fraud prevention.
With more commerce happening online than ever before, you’ve likely tied your cards to several accounts. One breach means that you’ll have to backtrack and re-enter your information across several different sites.
This can not only be frustrating but damage your faith in your credit institution.
While fraud prevention should be up to your credit card company, you can take some measures to keep data breaches from affecting you.
Try these 14 tips to keep yourself protected from credit card fraud.
1. Password Protection
The most obvious way to keep people from accessing your account is by having a secure password. A different password for every account you use online is a fraud prevention tactic that could spare you from experiencing fraud.
There are online password managers that can ensure that you don’t lose track of your many passwords. It might sound archaic but having a notebook with all of your passwords works as well. It’s much easier to break into your account online than to break into your house and know to look for a notebook full of passwords.
Just make sure you keep a copy of your list in a second location in case anything bad happens.
An increasing number of products and services now employ two-factor authentication. This sends a quickly expiring password to a second device. In order to log in, you must know the main password and have access to the second device being sent the second.
2. Use Cash More Frequently
While it’s not always convenient, using cash can help to avoid any kinds of issues with your card. There’s no technological way to interrupt the flow of dollars from your hand to the person who is receiving them.
If fraud prevention is a major issue for you, cash will not only help you to maintain a clear balance over your budget but also avoid data breaches. Keeping your card only for online transactions or times when cash isn’t an option will protect your accounts.
3. Don’t Share Information
When you get an unsolicited call from someone looking to sell you something over the phone, you could be being set up for fraud. Insisting that all transactions are made over the medium of a traceable digital interface or through a bank transfer is a way to implement fraud prevention.
Most companies know that people are skeptical about giving out their information to unknown callers and so they won’t even ask for those details over the phone. Unfortunately, nefarious actors have made phone transactions seem shadier than they usually are.
4. Protect Your Smartphone
As smartphones begin to implement methods of payment that connect to our bank accounts, our phones become less secure. An increasing number of people use banking apps, which can quickly transfer money out to other accounts in a matter of seconds.
If someone gets ahold of your phone, they can also get ahold of your money.
Make sure your phone is protected by an antivirus app to keep hackers out. Use the password encryption tools that are included with your phone’s basic operating system. Maintain a fraud prevention strategy by only downloading apps from an app store that you know and trust.
5. Keep Your WiFi Secure
Insecure WiFi networks leave everyone connected to them vulnerable to hacking. If your WiFi network is insecure, you’re available to be hacked by anyone within range.
Keep your password secure and monitor the traffic through your WiFi network. People who get access to your network can get control of your devices and mirror what is on screen or even get a remote login. Once someone can get control of your computer or phone, they can get to all of your saved passwords and auto-filled information.
Use an absurd mashed-up combination of words or made up non-dictionary words mixed with numbers. That way you can remember the password without leaving it open to being hacked. If you do your business from home, you only need to enter your password once, so make it count.
6. Avoid Suspicious Emails
If you get emails that are riddled with strange links, don’t click them. If someone you’ve never corresponded with is sending you attachments, don’t download them.
Many email providers integrate virus protection into their services but hackers are always finding ways to get around those tactics. Make sure you’re running a full scan of your inbox with antivirus software as often as possible.
Protecting your email inbox has become an important fraud prevention tactic. Ransomware like the WannaCry virus-infected email accounts via getting into people’s company email accounts.
7. Update Your Software
One fraud prevention tactic that might be sort of irritating is to keep your software updated. While for some people, it’s as simple as a click of a button, for others it’s not so easy.
Updating your software constantly is a complex affair if you use a lot of different kinds of software and products. If you’re mostly browsing, emailing, and doing basic work tasks.
People at media companies can be notoriously bad about updating, which helped lead to the Sony hack. If you’re working in media, a major OS upgrade might deal with some security vulnerabilities but could kill your ability to work.
Keep your software updated but make sure you’ve kept an eye on dependencies and compatibility along the way.
8. Use A Firewall
Firewalls can help you to maintain a healthy distance between your credit cards and nefarious sites that want to get your data. The best firewall software will contain settings that alert you to when someone is trying to get to your computer.
Fraud prevention means keeping a watch on connections to your devices.
If you see some activity that you don’t recognize or a site that you’ve never heard of trying to get into your data, you can shut them down. You might even be able to report that unauthorized connection to the antivirus or firewall company to help others avoid that breach.
If you are on the same network or server with other devices that could go to that website, you could all be vulnerable. If a virus or hacker is able to get onto a server, they can start connecting to all of the devices that visit that server. They’ll use a previously trusted connection and be able to get in without most users noticing.
A strong firewall can alert you that a connection is being attempted and you can take action in response before hackers get your information.
9. Watch Your Accounts
It might be more work that you’d like to be doing, but watching activity on your account is a surefire way to know nothing fishy is happening. Prevention means being diligent about your information and your credit card accounts.
Activity can be happening on your account without you realizing. Watching your accounts will allow you to report suspicious activity before it gets out of hand. It can be hard to recover your money if fraud has been happening on your account for several months.
Tracking down every unauthorized transaction could be a real pain.
10. Buy From Trusted Retailers
Buying from suspicious retailers means sending your credit card information to companies you might not have heard of. While they can paste reassuring text and logos all over their checkout page, they might not actually be using any security measures.
If they’re a foreign entity, it might be even harder to recover your lost money from them.
Even if the company is actually legitimate, they could be cutting corners on prevention tactics. By leaving your data up for being stolen by nefarious hackers or other websites, they do a disservice to all of their clients.
Don’t let yourself be a victim of credit card fraud for trusting a new company. If they want to implement strong security to prevent their customers’ data from being stolen, they’ll use multiple verified payment tools.
Using something like PayPal allows everyone to feel safe while leaving your payment information in the hands of a trusted entity.
You should support small businesses and independent retailers whenever possible. While you might be hungry for getting more points on your card, be careful. See if they’ll accept something like a Paypal payment if you don’t feel comfortable with their interface.
Fraud Prevention Is Up To You
It’s unfortunate to think but you shouldn’t leave prevention in the hands of other companies and other people.
Even though your credit card company has a responsibility to protect your information, identity theft can happen to anyone on any scale. Maintaining control over your information is the only real protection you have.