Protect Yourself from Card Fraud

Card Fraud

We live in a world where everything is supposed to happen instantaneously. We microwave our food to piping hot in minutes. Access information in seconds that once required hours of searching through library shelves. Purchase goods online with a few clicks of the old mouse, and pay for purchases from our local merchants with the swipe of a card. We even get irritated when the shopper in front of us has to count out cash, necessitating in a clerk – who has never learned the simple task of making change – looking at the register to find how much change to give back. And heaven forbid ending up in a checkout line behind someone who has the audacity to write a check!

Along with the wonderful convenience of being able to pay for our purchases with a card, however, comes the risk that some unsavory character might find it equally convenient to grab our card information and make his or her own purchases without having to deal with the inconvenience of paying for them. As a result, card companies and merchants have made use of numerous safeguards to protect us from becoming victims of fraud. Unfortunately, when we find new and better ways to protect ourselves and our customers from criminals, those criminals find new and better ways to work around our safeguards. The final responsibility for protecting ourselves falls right back in our own laps. Here are a few things you should do to protect yourself, just in case one of those smart criminals targets you.

  • Keep close track of your cards – Never leave a card sitting on the counter at checkout. All a criminal has to do is glance at and memorize the card number and watch you enter your PIN number (for a debit card), and your card is theirs for the using. Some criminals even work with store clerks to scan and store your card info as you check out. The new Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) cards are especially easy to copy by thieves with readily available portable scanners.
  • Keep your receipts, and make certain that clerks file their copies securely – for the same reasons as above.
  • Check your card statement online – It’s a good idea to have a peek at your online statement on a regular basis, comparing ledger items against your purchases. If you notice a purchase or withdrawal that you didn’t authorize, notify the card issuer or card protection agencies immediately and report the discrepancy. Here is the contact information for the card protection agencies:

Sentinel ® Gold

Affinion International

Charter Court

50 Windsor Road

Slough SL1 2EJ

Tel: 01753 828 600

www.sentinelgold.co.uk

CPP Group Plc

Holgate Park

York

YO26 4GA

Tel: 01904 544525

www.cpp.co.uk

Finally, if you use a debit card to pay for purchases, select Credit rather than Debit when you scan your card. Credit card processing includes additional safeguards against fraud, and while those safeguards aren’t foolproof, you need to use every tool available to make it harder for criminals to cash in on your account. As too many people have learned the hard way, skipping even simple steps can prove quite costly and frustrating. Not to mention far more inconvenient than standing in line behind someone who is writing a check. You might even find that you’re more sympathetic to those people in line ahead of you that cost you a few precious minutes while they pay for their purchases in such an archaic manner. Perhaps they know something, or have been victimized themselves.

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