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    How to Prevent Identity Theft with Credit Cards?

    Credit cards have had their fair share of bad reputation. With mismanagement from the cardholders’ end many people now view credit cards as instruments of debt. And to add to this somewhat misunderstood view of credit cards is the scope for fraudulent activities. The scope for fraud when it comes to credit cards is also somewhat misunderstood. Yes it can happen to anyone but what cardholders should realise is that these fraudulent attacks are as easy to stop as they are to occur. Cardholders need to take up some safety measures before they begin pondering on how and when they charged so much to their card. The most common form of fraudulent transactions on a credit card is a simple form of identity theft. This means that a fraudster has charged expenses onto the credit card pretending to be the cardholder. Such attacks are quite common due to poor vigilance on part of the cardholder and following the below guidelines can help cardholders stop this from happening.

    Physical Precautions:

    • This entails knowing where the card is at all times and keeping it in a safe place when not in use. Cardholders should avoid carrying a credit card when they don’t intend to use it and store it in a place which is not easily accessible.
    • Never write down the PIN of the Credit card. Regardless of how many credit cards one may have, they should at no cost write it down. They should memorise it and shred any document containing the PIN of the card. Writing down the PIN on the card itself is tantamount to disaster. Cardholders may often do this as they hold multiple cards and PIN numbers may often get mixed up but doing so allows anyone who steals the card access to funds. They can not only charge expenses to the card but also make cash withdrawals leaving the cardholder facing a mountain of charges and a hard time explaining to the bank that it wasn’t them who authorised the transaction.
    • Cardholders should report lost or missing cards. This means that they should be aware of the card and its surroundings at all times and be able to discover any loss or theft of the card at a reasonable pace. Cardholders should immediately notify the bank when their card is missing. Saving the toll free number of the bank is a good practice. Reporting the loss or theft will help banks to stop unauthorised transactions on the card and most banks also limit the liability of the cardholder against such transactions to S$100. Failure to report loss or theft of the card can result in the cardholder being liable for such charges.
    • Cardholders should thoroughly check their records and monthly statements to see if there are any charges made that don’t add up. Often, when fraudsters get a hold of the card details and begin making unauthorised transactions, they tend to make small discreet ones to see if it goes unnoticed or not. Keeping a track of what charges have been made to the card can help cardholders identify such charges and report it to the bank. Cardholders should also ensure that they shred such records and bank statements. Any piece of paper containing such sensitive information should be shredded before discarding. Dumpster diving is among the leading causes for fraudsters gaining access to bank accounts.

    Digital Precautions:

    • With more and more people spending majority of their time online, identity theft too, has moved to the online realm. Phishing attacks are a common occurrence these days. Be aware of imitation sites that look similar to the bank websites but ask you to key in details of username, password, PIN, etc. Bank websites are secure sites that display a green lock in the address bar. Phishing attacks also take place through emails. Such emails commonly advertise that the credit card has won a prize ad when the cardholder clicks on the email, it directs them to a different page made where the cardholder is required to enter key details. Never click on any emails sent from addresses that may seem suspicious or require you to leave the page you are currently on.
    • Be more discreet in social media. It’s not a good idea to disclose one’s full date of birth on social media websites or other public platforms. With basic information such as telephone number, address, and date of birth, a fraudster can be able to hack into a cardholder’s bank account.
    • Always clear browsing histories and disable cookies whenever possible. Never make payments on public computers. Cardholders should also take care of their own laptops or terminals by installing the latest anti-malware or anti-virus software and update it on a regular basis. If a cardholder has to work on a public terminal, then they should ensure that they clear the history and log out of any email account or bank account they may have logged into.
    • Cardholders should also ensure that they change the passwords on their computers, netbanking accounts, and email accounts on a monthly basis. Passwords should be strong and should contain one uppercase letter, one number and one symbol. Password length should be greater than 8 letters and cardholders should not use easy to guess, public information as passwords such as a full name or telephone number or date of birth.
    • Phishing attacks especially for credit cards also takes place through voice calls. Never reveal credit card numbers and PIN numbers to any soliciting calls as it is very easy for a criminal to pretend t be a bank representative trying to offer a new service or product. Cardholders should only reveal their card numbers when they have initiated the call to the bank.
    • Cardholders should also obtain copies of their credit reports on a periodic basis to ensure that there are no fraudulent accounts opened and that the information provided on the report is accurate. Cardholders should also regularly check their billing address is correct. Cardholders must keep a track of their billing cycles. Fraudsters change the billing address of the cardholder so that they do not get monthly statements that can notify cardholders of fraudulent transactions. Cardholders should reach out to the bank if they have not received their mail on time.
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