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7 Ways to Protect Yourself From Card Fraud

We’re not out of the woods yet

As previously reported by BankScoop, all merchants were encouraged to be ready to process EMV (chip card) transactions by October 1st, 2015. On that date, liability for fraud losses shifts to the weakest security link in the payment processing chain. While some merchants are ready, most are not. It does appear however that the rate of migration to the new technology has begun to accelerate now that the deadline has passed.

Until EMV rollout is complete, old-style fraud is still a risk

Last Friday (October 9th), the FBI issued a warning reminding consumers that no single card technology eliminates fraud. They urge everyone to remember that criminals will still be watching us and attempting to steal information. In fact, as the window on old mag stripe technology begins to close, fraudsters will likely intensify their efforts to steal card data while they can. Once EMV is fully in place, it will be much harder to perpetrate fraud.

Here are 7 ways you can protect yourself from card fraud:

1. Don’t let your card out of your sight!

It’s common to hand your card to a server at a restaurant. The card will be out of your sight for several minutes. That’s more than enough time for a wrongdoer to skim your magnetic stripe data or plain just copy down your card number and security code. Instead, if using your card, ask to pay at the host/hostess desk.

2. Don’t drop your card!

Take care that you put your card securely back into your purse or wallet. Double check to make sure you have it. As with the restaurant scenario, it only takes a few minutes for the data on your card to be stolen.

3. Don’t leave your card behind!

Because EMV transactions require you to insert and leave the chip card in the payment terminal until the transaction is complete, it’s easy to forget that the card is in the machine. Because criminals can still use your card the old fashioned way, remember to retrieve your card and securely stash it back in your wallet or purse after the transaction completes.

4. Protect your PIN!

While your entering your PIN, make sure to cover the keypad with your other hand. Creeps may be watching you or they may have installed a camera above you to discover your PIN. Don’t let that happen. Also, NEVER write your PIN on the back of your card. Many people do it but it’s against your bank’s rules and it’s equivalent to telling a thief, “Hey! You! Please Steal My Money!” ‘nuff said.

5. Monitor your account!

Check your account activity frequently with your mobile app. Be sure to check your statement as soon as it arrives (whether by mail or electronically). It’s YOUR responsibility to identify fraud. Sure, the bank will help you when it’s obvious, but many times, the bank will have no idea.

6. Notify your bank of irregularities ASAP!

If you discover suspicious transactions, call your card issuer immediately. The number is on the back of your card. Likewise, if you lose your card, find your most recent statement or go to your card issuer’s website and call the number shown to report a lost or stolen card. NOW! The sooner you report problems, the less likely you’ll be to have to eat a loss.

7. Report Fraud to the authorities!

Per the FBI press release,

“If you believe you have been a victim of credit card fraud, reach out to your local law enforcement or FBI field office, and file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.IC3.gov.”

Until all card issuers and merchants offer EMV compliant cards and payment terminals, we’ll still be using old, less-secure mag stripe technology to pay for our purchases. That means we’re vulnerable. In the mean time, sticking to these helpful tips will reduce the likelihood that you’ll be ripped off as we transition to the more-secure EMV chip technology.

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Written by Alpine Jennings

The founder of BankScoop, Alpine is a banking expert with over 20 years experience leading financial institutions to improve their products. He is a well-known customer advocate and has earned recognition from the FDIC for his work helping people to become better savers. You can reach him at alpine@bankscoop.com.

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