Tis the season to be Diligent!
Cheri Padgett, Vice President | Private Banking Director Fifth Third Bank
Tis the season to be…. Diligent! I love the holiday season, from Halloween to
New Year’s, the hustle and bustle, the decorations, the shopping, the family time, it’s a wonderful time of the year. You know who else loves the holiday season? Fraudsters, who we are going to refer to as the Grinch for this post.
The Grinch is becoming increasingly more clever and not in a good way for consumers. Credit card fraud is on the rise, in many ways, from Grinches stealing your card number on the web to opening new credit card accounts with your information. It’s important to arm yourself with the knowledge to help combat these Grinches. I’d like to take some time to share some tips and tricks you can follow this holiday season to mitigate the heartache and headache of credit card fraud.
First – Use your credit card vs a debit card.
Now the caveat to this is that using your credit card instead of your debit card takes discipline, by that I mean, your credit card should be paid off in full every month. Using your credit card for purchases offers stronger fraud protections. Debit cards are linked to your bank account, so if the Grinch gets ahold of your debit card, he has direct access to all the money in your checking account. Disputing a fraudulent charge on your credit card is much easier than trying to get your money back from whomever has stolen it from your account. Credit cards also help build credit, and many credit cards earn rewards.
Second – Be mindful of when, where and how you use your credit card.
By that I mean, make sure you are not providing credit card information over social media. Don’t use your credit card to shop on-line when connected over public WiFi. Don’t let your computer store your credit card info to be used on other sites, does this make life a little more difficult? Yes, yes it does. Unfortunately, I’ve seen my share of fraud lately. I can tell you from experience that the time it takes to reenter your credit card information for a purchase is much shorter than having to file a claim to get your money back.
Third – Be diligent review your transactions and statements.
It’s very important to, at the least, review your statements every month or even make time to review your transactions weekly. If something doesn’t look right, investigate! Make sure the transaction is fraud (and not something you purchased on a whim ), then take action quickly. Call the number on the back of your card or use your mobile app to freeze the card until you have determined the best course of action. Another helpful hint is to have a list of all the auto pays your card is “linked” to, this will help expedite the process to update your card number when your new credit card is received.
The holidays are a wonderful time of the year! They can also be stressful if the Grinch happens to get ahold of your card information. Be mindful, be diligent, act quickly, and know who to contact in the event of fraud. Follow these tips and we can send the Grinch back to Mount Crumpit.
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Photo by Mikhail Nilov