Even Credit Card Fraud Can Affect Your Home

Even Credit Card Fraud Can Affect Your Home

How to protect yourself from credit card fraud

A few years ago, we had a client who learned that her debit card had been skimmed. She didn’t experience any major losses, but she figured out something was amiss when she was checking her bank statement. As she was going through the previous month’s charges, she noticed a $30 charge for gas, at a gas station she had never been at. She also noted a $15 charge from a nearby pub- which she had never visited.

Both fraudulent charges came within a week of each other. After that, she said, everything else on the bank statement seemed normal.
When she called to report the activity to her bank, they said these types of fraudulent charges aren’t unusual. “The bank explained to me that some criminals will find a way to clone cards, and instead of using them to make large bulk purchases, they’ll charge small things over the course of a few months,” she said. “They do this figuring that the card holder may not notice the smaller transactions.”

Beware of skimming

Thieves have started to attach skimming devices to various self-service card readers, including in-store ATM terminals, gas pumps, or on devices that are attached to a smart phone. For example, in January 2016, a Starbucks patron confronted a barista who skimmed her credit card at the drive-through window. Although this example isn’t common, it’s something that everyone who uses a debit or credit card should be aware of.

Lost or stolen cards

Pickpockets are savvy. Another client we spoke with had no idea her wallet had been stolen out of her purse. Fortunately for her, she had set her credit cards up to send her an email alert every time a transaction was charged. An hour after she got home, when she saw an email for a $35 charge at a nearby restaurant, she realized something was amiss. She checked her purse, saw her wallet was missing, and froze all of her cards.

“I was really lucky I’d set up email alerts,” she said. “Within 10 minutes of me cancelling the cards, I got a series of emails about a bunch of declined transactions. Whoever had my wallet apparently hoped to have a field day with my credit cards, but since I froze the cards, none of the transactions went through.”

Final thoughts

Some of the best ways to ensure you don’t become a victim of credit or debit card fraud is to pay close attention to your accounts. Check your statements on a regular basis and if possible, set up text or email notifications, so you’ll be alerted each time your cards are used.