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How to Avoid Debit & Credit Card Financial Fraud

Debit card fraud occurs when a criminal gains access to your debit card number and in some cases, your personal identification number (PIN), to make unauthorized purchases or withdraw cash from your account. There are many different methods of obtaining your information, from unscrupulous employees to hackers gaining access to your data from a retailer’s insecure computer or network. Fortunately, it doesn’t take any special skills to detect debit card fraud.

Debit card fraud falls into two major categories: where the criminal uses the physical card of the consumer and card-not-present (CNP) fraud, in which fraudsters siphon money from the payment card via using it online or over the phone.

RODNAE Productions/ Pexels | The most frequent payment method identified out of all fraud reports was credit cards

The prior can occur in many ways, from theft on the street and intercepting your mail to attaching a card skimmer device to an ATM to create a counterfeit card. In these cases, fraudsters use the physical card (or a cloned card) either at an ATM to withdraw cash or at a point of sale (PoS) terminal at a merchant.

On the other hand, cybercriminals utilize a wide variety of tactics to acquire debit card details for CNP fraud, including hacking centralized databases of merchants or financial services, skimming, and phishing attacks. After they have the necessary information, which is often paired with sensitive personal data like social security numbers, date of birth, name, and billing address, perpetrators use this to purchase products and services at merchants to be sold later or open new financial accounts to monetize the stolen card details. Here are two basic ways to protect yourself from such fraud. 

Keeping the Credit Card safe

ArtHouse Studio/ Pexels | Criminals have been able to use technology, with relative ease, to produce fraudulent versions of existing credit cards

The primary step for credit card fraud prevention is to keep the credit cards in a place which is not easily accessible to others. First, make sure that a new credit card kit/envelope is not tampered with, and sign on the back of the card as soon as you receive it. 

Always keep the credit card secured in a small wallet which will make it difficult for snatchers or pickpockets. After every purchase, one must never forget to put the card away as soon as possible because thieves can store a digital imprint of the credit card through snapshots using cell phone cameras. It is also recommended to confirm the possession of the credit card in your wallet from time to time, even if you have not used it in a while.

Review your statement each month

Tim Samuel/ Pexels | The US posted $11 billion in credit card fraud losses in 2020

Online bank accounts typically offer a transaction log where you can regularly review your purchases, but it’s also worthwhile to run through your statements each month to see if you missed any unusual activity. If you find a questionable charge, be sure to contact your debit card issuer immediately.

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