Credit card fraud is a common crime. Here are some dos and don'ts to prevent it from happening to you.
Nandita received a call from a travel club, informing her that she had won a free trip to Goa. The caller told her that as a bonus, she was also being offered a chance to join the travel club at a highly discounted rate. The scheme was so fabulous that she could even make the payment directly by credit card. Nandita was so amazed that she did not think twice. Without asking for any further details, she gave her credit card information to the person on the phone. The caller told her that her tickets for the trip would arrive in a few days.
At the end of the month, Nandita had still not received her tickets but assumed they were delayed. However, she was horrified when her monthly credit card statement arrived. There were exorbitant charges on it that she knew she had not made. It was only then that she made the connection between the 'travel club' and her credit card statement. Unscrupulous persons had made purchases using her card.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud literally implies that someone has used your credit card to make a transaction without your knowledge. This may be in the form of purchasing goods or withdrawing money from your account. Credit card fraud can also be correlated to identity theft
. In this case, a person literally pretends to be you while using your credit card.
Most cases of credit card fraud arise due to actual theft of a credit card. However, it is possible to commit fraud even while an individual is in possession of his card. This is done by obtaining all the details of the card by fraudulent means. This type of fraud is worse because the person is not even aware that his card is being used, until he sees the charges on his monthly statement.
Protecting Yourself from Fraud
Here is a set of guidelines to minimise the chances of becoming a victim of credit card fraud.
- Sign your card immediately after you receive it. An impostor who makes off with your card can simply sign his name onto your unsigned card. At least if the card is signed, he will be forced to forge your signature.
- Carry cards separately. Rather than putting all your cards in your wallet, place them in a small pouch and place it in an inner pocket of your clothing. This ensures that your cards remain with you, if your wallet is stolen.
- Keep a record. Make a note of details like your card or account number, expiration date, phone number, and address of the credit card company. Keep the records in a secure place and review them every six months. This is so that you can easily contact the concerned people if you feel something is amiss.
- Be alert during transactions. Keep an eye on your card when you give it to a store merchant. There have been cases of clerks who swipe cards on other devices to store credit card information. The minute your card is returned to you, keep it back in your pouch.
- Save your receipts. Whenever you carry out a credit card transaction, preserve the bill and file it. At the end of the month, compare your receipts with the charges in your monthly statement. This is an excellent way to find out if there are any unaccounted purchases.
- Notify companies. If you are shifting to a new place, inform the card company in advance and give them the new address. The company then has enough time to make the changes in their database and send your monthly bills to your new address.
Credit card fraud can strike at any time. There are no guarantees that you may never be targeted by unscrupulous elements. However, by taking a few precautions, you can make it harder for someone to use your credit card without your knowledge.