How to avoid credit card fraud

SAN ANTONIO — Credit cards have great fraud protection, but it’s easier to prevent fraud than dealing with the headache of reversing fees or closing accounts.

Follow these tips to protect yourself and your credit card:

1. Watch what you post on social media.

“If you wanted to post your dog’s name on Facebook or Instagram and who wouldn’t?” says Beverly Harzog, credit expert at US News and World Report. “I did it myself. But don’t use your dog’s name in your password. Just know that this is something scammers are really looking for. So don’t go there. Don’t use your date of birth, don’t use your children’s names. Try to create a unique password that is unlike anything you do in your private life.”

Check out all of his tips for protecting your credit card number.

2. Check the website before you buy online.

Make sure the website you’re using has a padlock and an “s” at the end of “https”.

“What this means is that it is a more secure website,” says Michael Skiba, a fraud expert known as Dr. Fraud. “You can actually see it in the URL.”

3. Don’t store your credit card information in online stores.

“What happens if someone hacks the website?” said Harzog. “They will be able to retrieve your information.”

4. Locate skimmers.

Check your credit card reader before you pay.

“Does that look unusual?” said Harzog. “If it doesn’t seem right, that’s one way to try to catch the skimmer.”

Use the nearest gas station to the store to avoid skimmers.

“If you go to a gas station, which is actually closer to the shop, maybe right in front of your eyes. This may sound simple, but a scammer will have a much harder time trying to get a skimmer in an obvious unit,” said Skiba.

Also, be careful before using an ATM.

“I will always, always use the ATM at the bank,” said Skiba. “Maybe actually in the bank itself. If after working hours, some of them have a lobby. You can at least walk into a first tier bank as the chances of them skimming aren’t 100%, but much lower than those just in wide open areas at the mall or in a store.

Take these extra steps to ensure your pin number is safe when using an ATM:

“Sometimes they’ll put little cameras in the area so when you put in the pin, they can see it,” said Harzog. “It’s best when you’re in the ATM area, just protect your number with your hand so they can’t see what you’re typing.”

5. Do not use public Wi-Fi for financial transactions.

“Public Wi-Fi is easily hacked by people who know what they are doing,” says Harzog.

Sometimes scammers even set up their own public Wi-Fi to collect your information.

“We’ve seen a lot of fraudsters setting up public Wi-Fi sites in very heavy traffic areas like airports and coffee shops, bus stations, where people are really interested in using Wi-Fi,” Skiba said.

6. Check your credit card transactions every week.

“Just make sure you don’t spot a fraudulent purchase because the sooner you spot a scam and it happens, the better you know,” says Harzog.

Look for small deals.

“Sometimes fraudsters, even if they have your account information, they will just spend a small amount like seven or eight dollars, under $10 to test the account, see that it’s active,” says Harzog. “Sometimes the amount isn’t big, so you really have to scan the transaction and you check the small amount as well.”

7. Consider freezing your credit

Frozen credit will prevent scammers from opening accounts in your name that you don’t know about. It’s free and easy to do and easy to open if you need a credit check.

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