How to protect your credit card

Credit card fraud is facilitated when you give your credit card number to unfamiliar individuals, when cards are lost or stolen, when mail is diverted from the intended recipients and taken by criminals, or when the employees of a business, copy the cards or card numbers of a cardholder. Authorities claim that credit card fraud is on the rise and a large part of this can be attributed to credit card fraud on the Internet. Card companies say that where there is no physical delivery of goods, such as in the e-ticketing, e-shopping and service sectors, there exists a higher probability of credit fraud. So, here are some guidelines to protect your credit card:

Guard your card online

  1. Use a secure web browser, and don't enter your card number unless the little padlock is displayed on the lower right hand side of your browser. Also make sure that the Web address starts with "https" rather than just "http."
  2. Keep your password secret.
  3. Never send payment information via email.
  4. Payments should be made at reputable and reliable merchant sites as these use encryption technologies to protect private data from being accessed by others during a transaction.
  5. Monitor your monthly statements.
  6. Check all transactions carefully, because criminals test stolen accounts by buying inexpensive items.
  7. Investigate suspicious activity to prevent fraud.
  8. Notify your financial institution of suspicious email activity.
  9. Only open and respond to emails that are from somebody you know.
  10. Don't let the website 'store' your card numbers.
  11. Remember! Banks don't use e-mail communications to ask for personal information because e-mail is not secure.

Guard your card offline

Don't forget your card

you might be in a hurry or distracted by your friends or family, or involved in an interesting chat with the clerk. Whatever the case may be, you must keep an eye on your card and make sure it immediately finds its way back into your wallet.

Shield your card

Thanks to the ever stupefying advancements in technology; it is really easy to snap a picture of your card if it were left in plain view. Never provide your credit cards number or other personal information on the phone, unless you are able to verify that you are speaking with your financial institution or a merchant you trust.

Consider carrying fewer cards

Never carry all your cards-only the one or two that you might need. Carry your credit cards separately in a credit card case or in another compartment in your purse. If your wallet or purse is stolen, call your credit card issuers immediately.

Copy what you carry

Every once in a while, empty your wallet onto a copier and zap an image of the front and back of your cards. Keep this info in a secure place (not in your purse or wallet).

Crosscheck your credit card bills

Know when your statements should arrive. If one of your credit card bills is late, call the card issuer right away. A missing statement may indicate that your statement has been stolen. (You are responsible for paying your bills on time even when you didn't receive the statement.) Review the charges
The easiest way you can compare your statement is with the receipts you've collected during the month. And you can also scan each charge to make sure you recognize the merchant and the amount and have some recollection of making the purchase.

Check for unauthorized charges

An unauthorized charge is a purchase on your credit card that you did not make or permit anyone else to make. Treat your credit card bill like your checking account -- reconcile it monthly. Save your receipts so you can compare them with your monthly bills. If you find any charges that you don't have a receipt for -- or that you don't recognize -- report these charges promptly (and in writing) to the credit card issuer.

Safe online banking

Change your user name and password several times per year. Never use variations of your name, children's names, birth date, address, etc., that might be guessed by criminals. It is typically recommended to include alphabets, digits and symbols together in the password to make it secure. Examine your bank's web site home page and log-in screens carefully.

Check your paperwork

Beware of "mistakes." If a merchant makes an error processing your card, tear up the incorrect receipt or at least write "void" all over it. When presented with a receipt that has blank lines before the total, draw a line through them so that additional charges can't be added.

Collect credit card receipts

Keep copies of your vouchers and ATM receipts, so that you can check them against your billing statements.

Take care of all your records

Be sure to maintain records of all, your old credit card receipts, applications and anything else that includes sensitive financial information, such as your Social Security number.


If you read the fine print, insurance cover is only for a lost card and it gets activated only after you have reported your loss of card. It does not cover frauds mentioned above.

Steps taken by banks and Credit Card Company to avoid fraud:

Banks try their best to prevent misuse of the card. High value transactions on new cards are allowed only by manual authorization. Banks use tele-calling on abnormal/suspicious and close monitoring of transaction trends for customer confirmation and educating about regular card usage.
Meanwhile companies like Master card have introduced several innovative measures to prevent the misuse of credit cards. From holograms and the tamper-evident signature panels to card validation codes, MasterCard security innovations have been adopted as industry standards. Recently MasterCard Internet Gateway and MasterCard 2-factor authentication service has also been introduced.

What should I do when my card is lost or stolen?

If you lose your credit cards or realize that they have been lost or stolen, call the issuers immediately. Credit card companies have 24-hour customer service lines to deal with emergencies. Follow up your phone call with a letter to the issuer giving your card number, the date you discovered your card was missing and the date you called to report it. Report the loss of your card as soon as you can. Once you have reported the loss or theft, you have no responsibility for unauthorized charges.

Who pays the price of credit fraud is still a minefield open to speculation and litigation. Prevention rates as the strongest tool in avoiding credit frauds.

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