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preventing credit card fraud

Credit cards are probably the best and easiest way of allowing the consumer to purchase goods and services in shops and online with the minimum of fuss and hassle. They allow smooth transactions and mean that the customer can buy what they want immediately and pay it off at a later date. However, there has been a marked rise in credit card fraud in the past few years, with the rise in popularity of internet shopping and now the advent of chip and pin.

It's estimated that on average, banks in countries like South Africa can lose up to R5 Million per month due to risky or fraudulent transactions. While this is nothing new, incidents like this are clearly on the rise and consumers need to know how to correctly protect themselves. Happily, there are ways and means that mean using a credit card need not be a worry.
methods of credit card fraud
The most common ways for fraudsters gaining access to credit card details are usually through ATMs and card skimmers, which are put into cash machines or chip and pin devices and effectively steal the information encoded on the customer's card to make purchases. Other methods used can include pick-pocketing, or e-mail scams (commonly known as "phishing") that send out professional looking messages urging the customer to follow a link to update their personal details. From here the criminals will steal the information that's given and use it fraudulently.

The first time the customer is aware that there is something wrong is when they log into their bank account online, or receive their bank statement through the post and notice there are transactions that they haven't made. Sometimes these can run into three or four figure sums. Typically fraudsters will use the money to buy mobile phones, top them up with credit or pay for large, household electrical items.
protecting credit card customers from fraud
Treat a credit card as if it was money. Only carry the cards needed when shopping and no others. Keep them safe at all times and don't let them out of sight, or put them onto tables, chairs or anywhere from where they can be easily taken.

When using a chip and pin machine to complete a transaction anywhere, keep the details shielded at all times. Keep track of all transactions made in every single shop or online store. This can make it easier for banks and credit card companies to track where an incidence of fraud may have occurred.

Financial information that comes from banks, credit card companies etc should always be checked thoroughly when it arrives to make sure there are no discrepancies or irregularities. This information should be kept safe somewhere and when the time comes to destroy it, it should always be shredded and never thrown directly into the waste paper.

It may seem obvious, but never give a credit card to anyone else to use. It should be used by the cardholder only!

One of the best ways of guarding against this sort of fraud is to think about switching from a conventional credit card to a prepaid card which works in more or less the same way, but charges no interest and offers a way of depositing money into an account that means customers can only spend what they have and not run up massive debts. These sorts of cards offer a good way of keeping track of any money, with the added convenience of being able to be used just like a normal credit card in shops and online.

Everyone wants to search for the best deals on 0% credit cards but customers should make sure that they only purchase from reputable companies with a proven track record. There are many counterfeit cards on offer which are incredibly difficult to spot to the untrained eye, but under scrutiny from professionals with the right equipment will prove to be bogus. On a traditional credit card from a legitimate company, the hologram will be embedded into the middle of plastic of the card and can not be felt if the consumer runs their finger over it. On a bogus card, the hologram will tend to be positioned near the top of the card and will be slightly raised so that it can be felt if touched.

Staying safe when making purchases online or in the shops with a credit card is easy if these steps are followed and vigilance is maintained. Never be afraid to question the bank or credit card company if something doesn't add up or looks suspicious. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

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