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Security breaches have become almost commonplace as hackers and scammers continually find new ways to steal private account information. If you find yourself to be the victim of credit or debit card fraud, take these steps to take control of the situation.

 

Report the fraudulent activity

If you find that your account statement shows a purchase that you did not make, contact your financial institution or card issuer immediately to report the unauthorized activity. A delay in reporting could potentially increase your liability.

 

Cancel the card

Ask the financial institution or card issuer to cancel the compromised card and order a new one. This will prevent fraudsters from using your card number to make additional purchases.

 

Update auto-pay accounts

If you have automatic payments scheduled through a bill pay system or monthly subscription service, update the account information to reflect your new card number. Also, update your passwords for added security.

 

Going forward there are several simple steps that you can take to protect yourself from future fraud.

Keep your cards safe – Keep your purse or wallet close to your body so it cannot be easily snatched away. Only carry with you the card(s) you need to shop or do business that day.

Avoid giving out your card information – Your card issuer already has your card number and does not need to ask for it. Also, only give out your card information on calls that you initiate. If someone calls claiming to be from the credit card issuer, do not readily provide the information, even if the caller ID appears legitimate. Instead, independently call the card issuer back at a number you know.

Practice caution using your credit card online – Do not sign into accounts or complete transactions on a public computer or public WiFi. Fraudsters use unsecure computers and networks to monitor online activity of others in order to steal their private information.

Do not click on suspicious or unsolicited email links – Do not click on links in emails that appear to be suspicious – even if they appear to be from your financial institution or card issuer. Instead, contact the company first to verify if the email is legitimate.

Shred old cards when you receive replacements – To properly dispose of an old card, cut the card in half vertically to break the magnetic strip. Also, if the card has an EMV chip, cut across the chip on the front of the card as well. Dispose of the pieces separately or give the card to your bank for disposal.

Pay with your phone or your financial institution’s “digital wallet” solution – Apple, Samsung, and Google all offer digital wallet options. Using apps such as Google Pay or Apple Pay keep your card information more secure because your card data is stored in the wallet app and encrypted. At the store, your smart phone or other device sends your encrypted card information to the merchant so that you do not need to provide your card nor is your card number shared with the merchant or visible to other shoppers.

 

While you won’t always be able to avoid credit card fraud, you can limit your vulnerability and save a lot of headache and hassle as you go about your day.