These days, it seems there’s a new press release from a company that announces its financial networks have been compromised. While there are rarely any long term consequences for credit card users whose identity has been stolen or their computers hacked, it can create a bit of a nightmare.
Unfortunately, despite the zero liability most of our credit cards offer, at a minimum, we’ve no choice but to clean the mess of an unethical thief. We scoured the latest credit card leaders to see what their current stance is on preventing fraud and what they tell their customers. Visa, MasterCard, American Express – we have it all here, condensed and ready for you to incorporate into your own security efforts.
What They Know
Keep in mind, the credit card companies spend millions each year in their efforts to minimize risk to their credit card holders. They know that fraudsters will do anything they can to take advantage of consumers and they do their best to stay a step ahead of them. The credit card companies also tell their customers the first best weapon in preventing fraud, either online or in your daily life, is by staying aware. Whether it’s new invasive spyware or the suspicious fellow lurking near the mall entrance, you can never be too safe.
Preventing the Online Theft Efforts
The first word of caution Visa, American Express, Discover and MasterCard express is to keep your virus programs current. Not only should you keep them current, it’s important to ensure they’re set to scan your entire system once a week. You can easily set your program to do this at a time when you’re not likely to be online, in the middle of the night, perhaps. Next up, it’s important to create strong passwords.
We’ve all heard it before, but it bears repeating: avoid your children’s names, your spouse’s name, birthdays, social security numbers or other easy to figure out words. Be sure to incorporate numbers and letters in your password. “Jason123” is one that a fraudster might be able to figure out. “J1a2s33on4” might prove a bit more difficult. Most of us try to come up with passwords we can easily remember, but it’s better to choose one that’s not so obvious.
Newer Security Efforts
Also, a newer feature most credit card companies have now begun to offer is email and text alerts that are automatically sent anytime there’s activity on your credit card. You can easily adapt the options to best suit your needs. For instance, you might want to know anytime a payment is posted and you can now do that with a few clicks of your mouse.
Your Real Life Theft Prevention Measures
Much as we love our online shopping opportunities, we have to leave the house at some point. It’s never been safer to travel with your credit cards, but we must also remain aware that there are savvy thieves lurking when you least expect it.
Some credit card companies will suggest you notify it if you’re traveling out of the country. This will prevent any hold ups the company might instigate until it verifies that it’s indeed you who’s using the card in England or Australia. Also, be sure to save all of your receipts and double check the totals before you sign the receipts.
It’s also a good idea to write all of your card numbers, along with the balance and 800 phone numbers to the credit card carrier in a safe place. If your wallet or purse is stolen and you have that information stored away elsewhere, it will make it much easier to have replacement cards sent – especially if you’re traveling.
Remember to never give your PIN number to anyone. There is never an instance when a transaction will require you give it to a sales clerk. A PIN number should only be used when it’s you keying it into a keypad.
Finally, every credit card carrier encourages you to report missing credit cards or suspicious activity as soon as you discover it. The sooner you put those wheels in motion, the less the damage will ultimately be.
Our credit cards are there to serve as a convenience and financial tool for us – not a thief who’s only goal is to take what doesn’t belong to him.