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Here's How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud

And what to do in case you become a victim.
Here's How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/kelseymerritt
And what to do in case you become a victim.

It's always nice to know that you can shop from your favorite brands without leaving the comfort of home. With everything becoming available at a tap of a button, you can purchase a pair of shoes while you're on your way to work or even while in the loo. However, buying things online comes with a frightening price—pun intended. As your go-to brands, stores, and companies become smarter in selling you clothes and whatnot in the digital landscape, thieves also brush up on finding new (and high-tech) ways of stealing your hard-earned bucks. 

Take for example hairstylist Ethan David's experience while checking out a product via Instagram.

Ethan was merely scrolling through his feed when he stumbled upon an advertisment that piqued his interest. Naturally, he was transferred to the company site. Seeing that the product seemed promising, he sent the link to a friend. After which, he received a bunch of messages from his bank that there had been activities involving his account. In a nutshell, the hackers was able to take away P60K from his debit card. Yikes!

Now, before you start cursing online shopping and your smartphone, let us first break down everything related to credit card theft and fraud:

How does it happen?

There are five known types of credit card fraud and theft in the country:

1. Actual theft of card. 

This entails stealing the actual card you hold. Those who can get their hands on your card can use it to make payments. It's slightly difficult to do so when you have an ATM card where you're required to enter a pin through machines. But stolen credit cards can be easily used to make online purchases.

2. Information and identity theft.

With this, criminals assume your identity. They may even call you and pose as bankers asking you to provide personal info or details say, for a system update. And once you give them such details, they can initiate transactions on your behalf like renewals or payments.

3. Skimming

Skimming lets criminals illegally copy the information from the magnetic strip of the credit card. They use this stolen info to create counterfeit cards to be used in online transactions.

4. Phishing

These are e-mails from your bank company that look like the real thing asking for details like CVV, your log in ID, and passwords. These also come in forms of text messages, mailing lists, job offers, browser toolbars, and, in the case of Ethan, online advertisments.

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5. Card Replacement Scam

Here, you receive an e-mail, a call or a text message from an unknown number claiming to be someone from your bank. He'll ask you to surrender your card as you've qualified to upgrade your account or that you've been granted a higher credit limit. Some may even claim that your card had been compromised. Once you surrender your card, you've actually willingly handed over your card to the fraudster.

Are there unknown ways you're being careless about your card?

Yes. Sometimes, we get so lax in doing transactions that we think we're safe. But it pays to be extra careful and mindful of your surroundings when handling card transactions.

1.  Watch your card at all times, at all transactions.

It's easy to get distracted by a phone ding or an SNS notification alert when you're paying over the counter. But remember that even an employee from a known establishment can swipe your card, like when you're paying for gas and the service personnel asks to take your card to the cashier.

2. Don't say your account number out loud.

Whether it's over the counter or over a phone call which you did not initiate, never say out loud sensitive details about your card or account.

3. The site URL is a telling sign.

When a site does not have a lock symbol before the url, close the site. The site may already be compromised and it would do you further harm if you input your credentials.

4. Do not access personal accounts using public computers or connect to public wi-fi networks.

Anyone in the same public network can access your information. It doesn't help even if you go incognito. Just do your transactions at home or using your own mobile data.

How can you further protect yourself from being a victim of card theft?

While the above precautions are helpful in preventing card and identity theft, you can still double your security measures with these tips:

1. Do not give personal and financial information requested through e-mail or phone calls you did not initiate. Banks do not do this.

2. That said, do not open, let alone reply to suspicious e-mails. Spam e-mails can steal your personal details whether on the phone or via your computer.

3. Sign your cards immediately as soon as you receive them.

4. Never sign a blank credit card receipt. Draw a line through blank spaces above the total when you sign card receipts. Be sure also to check that the receipt is not carbonated underneath, where fraudsters can copy your signature.

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5. Protect your passwords. If you're at an ATM, be sure no other gadgets or contraptions are attached to the machine. If you're online, don't save them just for convenience. It's better to retype every single time than to suffer should your account may be compromised. That said, you should also regularly change your passwords — preferably into alphanumeric combinations that have no meaning to you, like your birthday or anniversaries. They are very easy to guess.

6. Don't wait for the bill. Open your account and check if the right amount had been charged to your card.

7. Destroy all sensitive documents. All paperworks issued to you that contain personal information such as credit card statements and even receipts must be shredded. That said, if you're quite forgetful, write your passwords and account details on a notebook and keep it in an actual safe. Storing them in your e-mails or phone notes are not safe.

8. Contactless payment methods can become unsafe. Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) scanners can be easily used by thieves to swipe your money. All they need to do is to get a scanning device close enough to your card and they'll have the info they need. This can also be used if your phones have Near-Field Communication (NFC) that enables sharing of credit card info. This takes in the form of Apple Pay, Google Wallet, etc. Protect yourself by individually foiling your cards or keeping them in a wallet that blocks RFID scanners.

9. Never surrender your card for renewal of replacement. Banks never do this. Cutting or shredding old cards are usually done once you receive your newly-activated card.

10. Report any suspicious activity on your account, stat.

How does your bank help you protect yourself from card frauds?

1. Insurance

Companies and banks like the Philippine National Bank, RCBC and AIG Philippines lnsurance (AIG) offer services like paying for charges or reimbursements on reported claims.

2. One-Time Passwords

BDO offers OTPs where the bank gives you a "unique six-character code that can only be used once and is sent only to your registered mobile number in BDO Online Banking. After encoding your user ID and password, you will also be required to enter the correct OTP to complete the login process. It serves as your second password that's unique with every login and expires five minutes after you receive it." Learn more about it here.

What are the things you need to do if you've fallen victim to this?

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1. Stop using your card.

2. Report it to your bank as soon as possible and have it blocked.

3. Change all your online passwords. Clear your cache, cookies, and all other digital footprint that stored your sensitive data.

4. Find your most recent receipts and note everything down. This will help investigators sort out the authorized transactions from the fraudelent ones.

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