While some people are still using the green stuff pay for purchases, the majority of us have made the switch to credit and debit cards. Accepted worldwide, these plastic wonders are a huge convenience when paying for in-person and online purchases. Unfortunately, this also means that plastic is now a primary target for criminals trying to steal them for fraudulent purposes. Here are a few must-have safety precautions to practice.
PROTECT YOUR CARD NUMBERS
Criminals want to get access to your cards’ details, including the cardholder name, account number and expiration date, and the card security code (printed on the card itself as well as encoded in the magnetic stripe or in-card computer chip). Never give out your card numbers in response to unsolicited emails (phishing scams), text messages or phone calls. And never write your PIN on the back of your card.
LOOK OUT FOR SKIMMING DEVICES
Before you swipe your card at a checkout counter, gas pump, etc., make sure there isn’t anything suspicious, such as a plastic sleeve inside a card slot. Scammers use “skimming” devices to record your card’s information as you swipe it, then use that information to create a duplicate card with to make unauthorized purchases on your account.
WATCH OUT FOR DOUBLE SWIPING
If the employee at a retail shop or restaurant swipes your card twice in two different card readers, it could mean they are using a skimming device. Report the situation to the manager as well as your card issuer.
TRAVEL WITH ONE CARD
When traveling, take only one card with you and monitor your charges and your account statement closely when you get home.
ENABLE ACCOUNT BALANCE NOTIFICATIONS
Sign up for text message or email notifications to verify transactions or receive alerts when your balance reaches a certain limit.
MONITOR YOUR ACCOUNT STATEMENTS
Review your account statements as soon they become available. UNIFY members have access to eStatements, which are usually available prior to paper statements, and UNIFY’s eBanking is a great resource for monitoring your account transactions anywhere, anytime. Report any discrepancy to your card issuer immediately, such as an unauthorized withdrawal or purchase. Even a small unauthorized transaction should be reported. Scammers will often make smaller withdrawals or charges with the hope they will go unnoticed.
REVIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORTS
Review your credit report every four months. You are guaranteed at least one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies. By spreading out your requests every four months, you maximize your protection against fraud. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to request your free reports
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