One out of ten Americans has been a victim of credit card fraud, according to Statistics Brain. With spring in full bloom, now is the perfect time to refresh your memory on how to prevent yourself from falling victim to credit or debit card fraud.
Less than three out of every 10 people in America uses cash. While cash is always a safe alternative, consumers enjoy the convenience of using the plastic, yet there are places to keep an eye out for when it comes to getting scammed. It’s always best to be cautious when swiping your credit or debit card.
Learn how to protect yourself when you swipe your debit or credit card.
Where are you most susceptible to fraud?
Here is a list of places where you are the most susceptible to fraud, as well as solutions to prevent yourself from getting cheated:
Gas stations: Swiping your debit or credit card at a gas station can prove risky if there is a skimming device attached to the card reader. A skimming device is a piece of technology that allows a thief to steal the information on your card to use at a later date.
Opt to use cash at gas stations instead of your card. If you have a credit card that offers points or cash back for using it at the pump, make sure you only visit gas stations that appear well-lit, and properly secured. Wiggle the card reader before you swipe your card and check to see if there is something attached to it. If it jiggles easily or looks strangely loose, scammers most likely attached a skimmer.
Be sure to report it to the authorities.
Restaurants: There are two reasons why you should double check your credit card statements regularly if you dine at restaurants. The first is because a restaurant employee can easily jot down the information on your card during the time they take take it to process a transaction; the second is due to the fact that some restaurants store the card information of regular customers to make it easier to complete an order.
To reduce the likelihood you are cheated by a restaurant employee, go to restaurants where you pay at the front. Also, if you regularly order from a particular restaurant, ask nicely if they can refrain from storing your information on file, that way if their database is breached, your credit or debit card information is not put at risk.
Hotels: Wi-Fi at a hotel is unsafe if it is not password protected. Even if it is protected, there is no telling when a security breach may occur. If possible, avoid using your credit card to make online purchases while at a hotel, as fraudsters sometimes set up fake Wi-Fi hot spots. A person may log in to this fake Wi-Fi and make an online purchase, which would give thieves an opportunity to steal the credit or debt card information.
Also, just as a restaurant employees can write down the information of your credit or debit card in a matter of seconds, a hotel maid who is cleaning your room if they come across one of your cards. It’s best to stash your cards in the safe.
Outdoor ATMs: Be wary of ATMs in areas you are unfamiliar with, or if you find yourself in a sketchy part of town and need to use an ATM nearby, be on alert.
The solution to prevent yourself from being the target of fraud from a hacked ATM is to only use machines that are in a well-lit area, or in an area where many people frequent, such as an ATM inside an indoor mall. The reason these types of ATMs are safer is because it proves difficult for a thief to place a device on an ATM that is indoors, or in an area with a heavy amount of traffic. Practice the same method you would at a gas station to check for a skimming device, give the card reader a slight tug to see if you find a device.
Online: Using your credit or debit card online always presents some type of risk.
Make an effort to only complete transactions online from websites with credibility. Read through the terms of the agreement in detail for any websites you are unfamiliar with to avoid additional charges from appearing on your statement. Do a quick Google search for any websites you’re having doubts about — if you do not find any information, trust your gut and stay away.
Debit or credit, which is safer?
Using a credit card over a debit card is actually more secure. If your debit card information is stolen and you do not report it after two days, you could be liable to pay $500 for your loss. Even worse, failing to report fraudulent activity on your debit card within 60 days of activity can leave you liable to pay for all the charges made on your account.
The Federal Trade Commission provides more security to credit card holders. The maximum amount a person can be liable to pay for fraudulent charges on a credit card is $50, no matter how many days go by before you report it being stolen or the victim of fraud.