When Target announced they had been hacked and millions of customers had their credit card numbers compromised, it was big news. But the large retailer was hardly the first one to be compromised and won't be the last.
by Jean Gerritsen in Money Management on Monday, July 23, 2018
The public hardly noticed. There was no visible outrage like several years ago when TJ Maxx announced its systems had been compromised. Then, editorials were written about how to better protect consumer data. Customers thought long and hard about where they were going to use their credit cards.
Now fast forward. Credit card companies have made it pretty easy for consumers. If there is fraudulent activity on a credit card, the charge is removed, the account is closed and a new credit card arrives in the mail. Perhaps the simplicity of the process has made it easy for credit cardholders to become a little ho-hum about credit card fraud.
But it isn’t all that easy. If you don’t catch credit card fraud fast enough, it may impact your credit and that may take awhile to remedy. So, how can you protect yourself?
Check your statement often. Most credit cards, as well NCMIC’s MilesAway MasterCard, allow you to check your activity online. Make it a habit to check your account activity several times during the billing cycle. Often before large-scale fraud begins, criminals will test your account with a small purchase. They’ll wait a couple of days to ensure the purchase goes through and then attempt to use your card information for a larger purchase or cash withdrawal.
Report suspicious transactions immediately. If neither you nor your office manager remembers spending $52.30 at Office Depot for supplies, call your credit company. They will be able to give you more details about the transaction, as well as suspend your account from further activity while they are researching it.
Use secure checkouts online. Make sure you’re using a secure connection to check out your online purchases. This is easy to check – it will say https:// and then the website address. This is especially important while making purchase from unfamiliar retailers.
Many credit card companies are working hard to implement state-of-the-art fraud prevention tools. For example, our own MilesAway MasterCard utilizes a system and staff that continually monitors our cardholders’ transactions for unusual activity 24/7. As a safeguard, we’ll even call cardholders if we notice inconsistencies from typical transaction patterns. But the best place to start is with your own commitment to monitoring your account. You’ll be much better protected when you do.