Safeguarding Your Credit Card
How to protect your credit card information from online fraudsters and hackers. Image from BlackSwanInsights.blogspot.com
Even if you didn't have a credit account with Home Depot, the recent data breach the company experienced had many people wondering how safe their credit card information was, and if they could become victims of credit card fraud.
How does credit card fraud happen?
Remember carbon copies? In years past, credit cards were mainly processed using impression machines and carbon-copy forms. That slip of carbon had a copy of your card number, card expiry date and signature—and when it was thrown out, you were at risk for identity theft.
These days, thieves are a bit more high-tech. While letting your credit card statement fall into the wrong hands is still a bad thing, today's fraudulent scammers use cyber attacks to steal your digital credit information. They create unique malware that they secretly upload to computer systems that have vulnerabilities in their security. They then siphon off customer data and sell it on the black market.
How to safeguard from credit card fraud
- The Federal Trade Commission* offers consumers this advice to keep your credit cards and account numbers safe.
- Watch for card swipe machines that don't look right. This can happen at gas pumps and ATMs. Things to look for are pieces of tape or paper that appear to be inside the card-swipe area. If it doesn't look right, don't use it.
- Never give out account numbers or PIN codes over the phone, unless you're dealing with a company you've bought from before.
- Ask the retailer at which you use their credit card what security they have in place to protect against a security or data breach.
- Examine every statement carefully, comparing saved receipts against every purchase, and report any questionable charges to the card issuer.
- Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling.
- Keep an eye on your credit card at all times during the transaction. If you have any misgivings about the handling of your card, ask the clerk to cancel the transaction and check your credit card statement online right away.
Fraud security at Bellwether
It's important to point out that the recent security breaches reported in the media have happened at a retail store level, and not via the credit card company's or financial institution's computer systems. When we are notified by a third-party retailer that a security breach has occurred, we monitor card activity closely, replace our members' cards if appropriate or requested by the member, and deactivate the old, possibly-compromised cards. Our member's security always comes first for us, and we take immediate and appropriate steps to safeguard it.
If you have any questions about security and safeguards Bellwether uses on behalf of its members, please call us at 603-645-8181.
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