Avoiding Fraud on your Credit and Debit Cards

Credit or debit card fraud can strike anyone. But there are things you can do to help prevent your account information and personal data from being compromised. Here are a few ways you can reduce your risk of becoming a fraud victim.

  • Use credit and debit cards with EMV chips. EMV chips provide an added layer of security by creating a unique, encrypted authentication code for every debit and credit card transaction you make. Because the code is difficult for hackers to replicate, it’s more difficult for someone to duplicate your information when you use a card with an EMV chip. If you do business with a merchant that doesn’t have chip-enabled technology, you can swipe your card, but you won’t get the security benefits of the EMV technology. 
  • Let your card issuer know when you’ll be traveling. One of the things debit and credit card companies look for when detecting fraud is irregular spending patterns or card usage in unusual locations. If you’re going to travel somewhere you don’t usually visit, be sure to let your card issuer know so your account doesn’t mistakenly get flagged for fraud. 
  • Watch out for phishing scams. If you receive an email or text with a link that looks suspicious, don’t click on it. Fraudsters use phishing emails to trick you into entering information they can use for their benefit, including account information, logins, passwords and more. They may also use phishing scams to install malware on your computer to gain access to your files and to other sensitive information stored on your computer. Phishing attempts often look like they’re from legitimate businesses, so it’s easy to be fooled. But remember, most businesses won’t send you emails asking you to enter sensitive information. If you’re worried the email might be legitimate, call the company yourself using a phone number from a source you trust such as your account statement or the back of your debit or credit card.
  • Stay secure online. Only use your credit and debit cards on sites you trust. If you come across a site you’re not familiar with, think twice before inputting your personal information. It may not be a legitimate site.
  • Fill out your credit card receipts completely. Don’t leave the spaces for "tip" and "total" on your card receipts blank because someone could write in a dollar amount before returning it to the card issuer. Instead, put a line through the spaces or write $0.
  • Keep your cards close. One of the easiest ways to help prevent fraud is to keep your debit and credit cards with you all the time. Don’t leave your wallet or purse somewhere other people can easily gain access to it. And when you’re going out, take only the card(s) you need and leave the others at home in a secure location such as a safe.
  • Shred documents. If you’re not already shredding documents that contain bank and credit card account information or sensitive personal data, you should start immediately. If you throw away documents without shredding them first, it’s easy for criminals to go through your trash and obtain enough information to commit fraud.
  • Carefully review your credit card and bank statements each month. If you notice any transactions you don’t recognize, contact your financial institution right away to report the unauthorized activity.
  • If you lose one of your cards, report it immediately. The sooner you report the loss or theft, the sooner your card issuer can act to prevent fraudulent transactions.
Other great resources for protecting your family from fraud can be found on the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Information website.