Combating Credit Fraud

29 October 2015

Using credit and debit card accounts has made spending incredibly convenient, especially in today’s mobile world. With a little piece of plastic, it has become easier than ever for us to access our money from anywhere in the world. However, just as consumers appreciate their ability to fit more spending power in their wallets, thieves relish in the fact that a stolen wallet could grant them access to far more than the physical tender inside.

Credit fraud occurs when a thief obtains account information for a debit or credit card and uses it to make purchases and rack up debt in someone else’s name. While in many cases this is the result of physical theft of a credit or debit card, these are many new ways identity thieves can get their hands on credit card information without the physical card itself. With just a card number and expiry date, fraudsters can make purchases online before the card owner even realizes he or she has been victimized.

To protect against identity thieves from obtaining your financial information, be sure to shred documents that contain sensitive line items, such as credit card statements, bills or pay stubs, before throwing them in the garbage. If you shop online, only entrust your payment information to secure websites. If your credit or debit card is stolen, it’s important to act quickly. Call your bank or card companies immediately to cancel the cards and report any fraudulent purchases.

Because we use our credit and debit card information to pay for services with so many different websites and apps in addition to using the cards in our wallets, it could take you months to realize your account has been compromised. Therefore, it is imperative that you comb through your credit and debit card statements every month as well as your bank statements for any fraudulent charges that could alert you to credit fraud. You can also look through your credit files for any new lines of credit that you did not sign up for to detect fraud—either request one of your two yearly free credit reports from the credit bureaus or sign up for a credit monitoring service that will alert you when new activity is detected and allow you to see your credit report on a monthly basis.