With recent stories about popular retailers involved in major security breaches, it’s no wonder that credit card fraud is a big concern. In the United States alone, 25.6 million adults have fallen victim to fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission. However, you can avoid becoming a part of this statistic by learning how to protect your personal finances. With a few safety precautions, you can protect your accounts and keep your money where it belongs.
Monitor your accounts
Credit and debit cards might make it easy to shop, but that doesn’t mean you can forget about each transaction once it’s complete. At the very least, you should be reviewing your statements monthly and checking your credit record once per year. Online banking makes it easy to check your statements and transactions, so you can even review your account activity daily. Even if it’s for 1-minute a day, this will get you thinking about your money, and will enable you to spot errors quickly if something fishy arises.
Sign up for account alerts
Take full advantage of any alert program offered by your financial institution or credit card company. You can receive emails, texts, phone calls, or all three if there’s unusual or suspicious activity on your account. There is no reason you should not have this feature enabled.
Take extra precautions
Unfortunately, having all of your information online also makes you the potential target of scammers. Take steps to protect your online identity. Your financial institution will never ask you to send any credit card information, account numbers, passwords, social security numbers, or birthdates via email. Be cautious of any emails asking for this type of information. As a general rule: do not give out that information unless it’s being asked of you directly on your institutions website, or when you’re in-branch.
Use smartphone apps carefully
Money transfer and mobile payment apps are becoming increasingly popular as friends and family members can easily transfer money from one account to the next. But as convenient as this may be, there are considerable risks involved in giving a third-party digital access to your wallet. Many of these apps have already been compromised by scammers and fraud. If you choose to use apps like Venmo, Square’s Cash app, or Apple Pay, be sure your device is secure. If possible, avoid linking the app to your debit card or bank account, and use your credit card instead.
Save your receipts
When the cashier asks, “Would you like your receipt?” say yes. It might not be convenient to carry around these tiny slips of paper, but you’ll thank yourself in the event that something goes wrong with your account. Set aside time to compare your receipts with your monthly statement.
Read more about how to use your debit card online safely.