It was a particularly dull morning, the excitement of spring watered down by the constant downpour dampening everyone’s spirits… when my trusted Nokia rang.
It was an automated message.
I was about to hang up when I caught my bank’s name and it was from the fraud department notifying me of some activities on a credit card I rarely use! The message directed me to call a number. I quickly grabbed a pen and noted down the number.
But I didn’t call back that number. Instead I called my bank. Why? The number may or may not be legit! Years of working on a related field made this response almost instinctive!
Sure enough someone had used my card to help himself/herself (hey I’m an equal opportunity blogger!) to a Lenovo! There were some more charges all made the same day. The bank quickly shutdown the card and promised to send me another one advising me to shred the card.
The last time I used the card was to order something online from outside the US. Not saying that online outfit is the culprit, but a possibility. Luckily, the damage was minimal and was caught in time.
What Can You Do To Minimize Credit Card Fraud?
- Shop from known retailers as much as possible. Even though the company I used was a well known company, I had never shopped with them before
- If the site is based outside the US, be extra cautious! The site I was shopping at was based in the Middle East. I was simply trying to cash out my expiring miles from an airline I had used a while ago!
- Always setup alerts on your credit card. This is one type of spam you should read! I usually setup alerts on all cards, ATM and credit cards, but skipped this step for this card since I hardly use this card
- If you must shop from an unknown retailer, or at a non domestic site, use disposable credit card numbers. I know Discover provides this. Check with your card company. Disposable card numbers are generated online for one time use.
- If you get a call from your bank asking you to call back on a number, don’t! Always call the number at the back of your card. In my case it was a legitimate call, but calling unknown numbers is just asking for trouble!
- Never enter any sensitive information, not just credit card info. on sites that doesn’t begin with https! http is not secure! The ‘s’ in https stands for secure!
- If feasible, avoid storing your credit card information with the retailer.
Ironically, when I was ordering from this site, I kept telling myself that I should be using a disposable credit card number and not this card! Why didn’t I? Laziness! It was one extra step to login, generate and note the number!
11.1 million people fall victim to identity theft each year and fraudulent credit card use account for nearly half a billion dollars worth of loss each year!
Don’t become another statistic.
(Here’s another great post on how to protect yourself from Id theft)