Credit/Debit Card Fraud Prevention Tips
Becoming a victim of credit or debit card fraud can be a very difficult experience, and one we would never recommend you experience. While we cannot guarantee that these tips will prevent you from ever experiencing this situation, we do believe that they will help you have a higher chance of avoiding it.
- Always take the time to check ATMs and gas pumps for extra devices that may have been placed by fraudsters attempting to skim your card details. Do not use any ATM with loose parts or keypads missing the standard Braille dots - inform the bank or gas station of the potential problem and find another location to perform your transaction.
- Be vigilant when using an ATM to avoid intentional distraction by fraudsters attempting to steal your card. Fraudsters have also been known to "shoulder surf" at the ATM in an attempt to view a victim entering their PIN, so be conscious of anyone very near to you at the ATM.
- Try to avoid using standalone ATMs often found in convenience stores, hotels, bars, etc. Devices which intercept and record the ATM phone line tones can be utilized more easily in these locations than in more permanent ATM installations.
- Take the time to carefully check your credit card statement for unauthorized charges. Checking recent activity online daily or weekly is even better than waiting for your statement (but be sure to follow Safe Internet Browsing practices when doing so!).
- If your bank stores electronic copies of the checks you have written for online viewing, petition the bank to blur (or remove) the routing/account numbers on the bottom of the check. This will prevent fraudsters from obtaining the necessary information to perform an ACH (Automated Clearing House) transfer should your online banking credentials be compromised.
- Never use your debit card for online purchases. It is much more difficult and time consuming to recover lost funds from a checking/savings account than it is to contest charges with a credit card company. Designating one credit card for online purchases only is also prudent because it limits exposure and allows you to quickly identify the method of compromise.
- Explore using a credit card company that allows you to create secure virtual card numbers that are valid only for the first vendor they are used with, and which you can selectively disable without having to change your permanent credit card number.
- Avoid using computers you do not have full control over for online banking. This includes any public venue that provides a computer with Internet access.
- Be aware that if you give your debit/credit card to a restaurant employee for payment, when the employee walks away to charge the card it is relatively trivial for that employee to copy the card's magnetic stripe using a small handheld skimmer. These skimmers allow fraudsters to replicate your credit card at a later date for fraudulent transactions. This is why when you dine in the European Union, a restaurant employee often brings the mobile card processor to your table.