Debit and credit card use is becoming popular with millions of transactions carried out each day to purchase goods and services. Although credit card fraud is rare in Canada, it does occur, and it is important to protect yourself and know how to minimize your risk of fraud.
Many savvy internet shoppers know that it’s riskier to give your credit card to a waiter in a restaurant than it is to purchase an item online through a secured connection—nothing can prevent your waiter from writing down your credit card number.
How to Protect Your Credit Card
The best way to protect your credit card is to take an active role in maintaining responsibility for it—spend and make payments wisely, and never compromise the security of your card or identity.
How Does Credit Card Fraud Happen?
Credit card fraud can occur in a number of ways, so it’s important to treat your credit cards like cash and to become aware of common ways a fraud may occur. Common types of fraud include:
- Lost or Stolen Credit Card: someone uses your lost or stolen credit card
- Identity Theft: someone applies for a credit card using your personal information
- Counterfeit Credit Card: Scammers duplicate legitimate credit cards for the use of fraudulent activities
- Non Receipt Fraud: Your new or replaced credit card gets stolen before you receive it in the mail
- No Card Fraud: Your credit card number is being used to make transactions over the phone or internet without your knowledge
Tips for Credit Card Fraud Prevention
To prevent credit card fraud, as a cardholder, you should protect your card and card number to the best of your ability. Some tips for fraud prevention include:
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time.
- Guard your mail against theft. Don’t leave mail unattended or unsecured in a mailbox and shred discarded mail that contains personal information.
- Put passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts, whenever possible.
- Be protective of your personal information. Be cautious when giving out your credit card number, address, or other personal information. When possible, only share this information when you know you are dealing with a reputable organization.
- Protect your personal information in your home. Tear or shred documents like charge receipts, copies of credit offers and applications, insurance forms, doctor’s statements, discarded bank cheques, and statements, and expired credit cards before you throw them away.
- Never carry your Social Security card with you. Leave it in a secure place at home.
- Confirm online purchases are secure. Look for clues such as a lock and key at the bottom corner of your browser, a URL that begins https://, or the words Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).
- Avoid using your credit card as ID. Thieves can use this information to assume your identity and open bank accounts, make purchases, obtain cash, and even get a job or an apartment. However, some merchants require a credit card as a secondary form of ID. Only use your credit card at recognized and reputable merchants.
- Ignore emails that ask you to provide your credit card number via email.
- Avoid ‘phishing’ scams by disregarding emails that require you to verify your credit card information on a site.