21 Tips To Prevent Credit & Debit Card Fraud Online

Small negligence can lead to card frauds and money loss from your bank. You should be careful when installing mobile apps or using at petrol pumps and restaurants.

Worldwide, the gross card fraud losses in 2017 were $24.26 Billion and projected to hit $34.66 Billion by 2022.

Techcrunch reported on 30th Jan 2019 that India’s largest bank SBI leaked account data of millions of customers.

It’s a shame that a reputed bank could not protect the data of its customers.

As per Techcrunch report,

“The bank had not protected the server with a password, allowing anyone who knew where to look to access the data on millions of customers’ information.

It’s not known for how long the server was open, but long enough for it to be discovered by a security researcher.”

What a normal user like you and me can do if the data breach happens at the bank level? Nothing much in the above case.

But we can ensure that the data leak should not happen from our hands.

Let me tell you the story of my travel in Bali (Indonesia).

If you visit Bali You would find ATMs installed in the walls, near the beaches and inside the markets. Banks installed ATMs openly in the market for the convenience of tourists but the same became easy targets for hackers & techie thieves.

We heard the horrible stories of money loss from debit cards in Bali. So we always used our debit card in the ATMs installed in the banks.

Let’s understand how to protect ourselves against the frauds.

Avoid Debit Card Frauds Through ATMs

#1. Beware of tempered (Fake) ATMs

Never use an ATM that appears damaged especially in standalone locations (unguarded ATM).

These ATMs are easy targets for the hackers who can instal a data skimming device on ATM. This device copies the card information from the magnetic strip when you swipe the card.

They steal your information from two places

  1. Copy magnetic strip data to clone ATM
  2. Watch your ATM PIN through Camara or fingerprints on the number pad

In the worse case, the entire machines could be fake to steal the card information.

You should avoid ATM transaction when you notice

  • The ATM machine is tempered
  • You are asked to enter PIN twice to complete the transaction
  • Slot feels misaligned, has a probability an additional card reader slot has been placed on top of the actual one.
  • If you noticed an additional camera pointed at the ATM keypad to capture the PIN
  • Don’t enter your PIN, if the keypad feels spongy to touch or lose

#2. Cover keypad while entering PIN

Someone could be watching your PIN from your behind (if they could not install camera but installed just card reader). Cover the keypad with your hand while entering the PIN to hide the password from the nearby camera and from the other person.

#3. Help from strangers can be dangerous

That’s quite obvious but hackers may trick you by offering their help in a tempered ATM.

For example, if your card stuck in their installed data copier then you would look for help around. An innocent looking person comes to help you and ask to put your PIN again. You try in front of him and reveal your PIN. They already copied your ATM data and now got your PIN as well.

Always report to authorities if some issue happens with your card inside ATM.

Credit & Debit Card Fraud Detection & Reporting

#4. Beware of spam e-mails

There could be two types of spam emails

  1. When someone asks you to respond to emails with the intention of taking your personal information.
  2. The links inside email have malicious codes or take you to a fake webpage of bank

Do not click links in emails if the offer seems too good to be true. You can see your spam folder which is full of million-dollar offers or a Nigerian prince who wants to transfer his wealth to your account.

#5. Public Wi-Fi, an invitation to thieves

Public Wi-Fi is an open opportunity for the hacker to steal your card information. Use VPN if you are using public Wifi in any cafe, mall or even at the Airport.

You never know how the hackers can tap your data even when you are using https in your web browser.

You must definitely avoid making any financial transaction using public Wi-Fi especially at railway stations, airports, restaurants or libraries.

#6. Use antivirus software

Malware is malicious software that can damage your computer & mobile systems and allows the fraudsters to access your confidential data.

You should use the anti-virus software on your computer and smartphone to keep out malware.

Latest anti-virus software not only secure the devices but also confidential data and prevent any chance of hacking.

#7. Avoid unsafe apps

While installing, the mobile app asks for permission to access data. Once accepted, you allow the app to access and modify personal data which can have serious ramifications.

What if you install an unsafe mobile app?
The apps will have access to your private information like contact details, account information, username, IDs, and passwords.

If you have saved your card’s information in a mobile, the app can be used for unauthorized payments & transactions.

So, better install useful & trusted apps.

#8. Credit card is safer for e-shopping than a debit card

The risk coverage is different in both cases.

  1. The debit card can be misused maximum up to available balance; there is no insurance cover
  2. The credit card can be used up to the credit limit (or sub-limit); fraud protection coverage is available

You can set a lower limit for the credit card by calling customer care or through net banking. That would protect you from heavy losses due to fraud.

Most of the credit cards offer ZERO fraud liability if reported within the set time period.

Fraud on a debit card is limited to your per day transaction limit.

#9. Set bank alerts on mobile SMS

Keep your mobile number updated with the bank to receive all the banking related alerts.

RBI also advised banks to ask their customers to mandatorily register for SMS alerts. In case the credit card is compromised, you can timely inform the bank to block your card.

#10. Use virtual debit and credit card

Virtual cards have limited balance and validity. You can change the virtual credit card numbers frequently to avoid the misuse. This way your primary card information is not used anywhere and you have a safe transaction.

#11. Beware of fake calls

You should not reveal any kind of personal & confidential information like card number, CVV, expiry date, password, or OTP over the phone, even to the bank officials.

The caller pretends to be a bank representative and after giving a false sense of security, the caller tricks the victim into giving their personal and confidential data.

If you receive such calls then inform the banks. Sending one tweet to the bank is enough to make them aware.

#12. Security from merchants

Shopping malls, restaurants, and petrol pumps are the places wherein your card is taken by the salesperson for swiping to a remote location where you cannot see them.

Then the card information from the magnetic strip can be copied. However, it’s unlikely because their reputation would be at the risk. You can trust their brand but who knows what’s going on in the life of their workers.

Your safety is in your hands.

#13. Password protection precaution (PPP)

You should do some general measure to keep your credit and debit card password safe.

  • Never share your PIN, CVV and card number with anyone.
  • Never write down password anywhere, especially on the back of a card.
  • Your Password shouldn’t be your date of birth or anniversary
  • Change your password regularly

#14. Use virtual keyboard

Using virtual keyboard while online transaction eliminates hackers or malicious software to record your keystrokes (keys struck on a keyboard) and is a great way to prevent passwords or credit card details.

#15. CVV protection

Don’t complete the online transaction if asterisks (*) do not appear while entering CVV of the credit card. Genuine websites do not reveal the CVV numbers on their online forms.

#16. Destroy old financial documents

The chances are few, but there are cases of personal information getting stolen from lost or discarded credit card application forms. They are used by the fraudster to get new cards.

Always keep your personal information safe and destroy the old financial documents.

#17. Get Your Card Re-issued Every Year

You should reissue your debit or credit cards after every one year. With the reissued new card, CVV & expiry date of the card would also be changed. Some banks also change the card number on newly re-issued cards.

This is one of the best ways to keep your credit/debit card safe from misuse.

To avoid the re-issue fees, give them a reason that your card has been damaged and not working on shopping.

#18. Don’t Carry Your All Card Together

If you have multiple credit cards, then you shouldn’t keep your all the credit cards at one place. In case of misplace, there would be chances of misuse on all the cards.

During travel, only keep 2 or 3 credit cards with you, that you would use in your journey. There is no purpose to keep all the credit cards with you all the time.

Credit Card Safety Rules

#19. Set sub-limit on your credit card

Banks give you a higher credit limit based on your good credit score and history.

I recommend you to set a sub-limit of your credit card using online banking.

For example, If you have a credit limit of 5 Lacs, you can set a limit of 30-50K, as per your regular shopping requirement. Then the maximum amount can be utilized on your credit cards as per the defined limit.

#20. Disable international spends

The best way to avoid card frauds on international transactions is to disable international usage by default.

Banks like HDFC call immediately whenever there is an attempt to use the credit card for international usage. You can ask them to enable the international spend whenever you need.

#21. Verify credit card statement with your expenses

You must check your credit card statement and tally with your actual expenses made through the card. You may find some charges which you haven’t made.

Unauthorized charges on the credit card are the first sign of credit card fraud.

If you notice an expense you didn’t make, no matter how small, report to your credit card issuing bank immediately.

Report Lost or Stolen Credit Cards Immediately

In case, any fraud has happened, immediately report the same to your card issuer and block your credit card.

Early reporting would prevent from fraudulent charges.

For that, you can write down the your credit card customer service number along with your credit card number.

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