For the 5th cyber security hack in this series, here are some simple ways to protect yourself from credit card fraud.
Hack #5: Monitor Your Accounts
Hoping you’ll never be the victim of personal identity theft isn’t going to protect you from harm. You have to take overt action to stay ahead of the Bad Guys. Fortunately, there are a number of things anyone can do to reduce risk of malware and ransomware and fend off phishing attacks. It won’t be perfect, but the more you do the better the odds you and your data can stay safe.
That’s why we’ve been offering our blog series on hacks for safer cyber citizenship.
How many times have you heard how important it is to review your financial statements as soon as you receive them? Far too few of us actually do that. But bank statements, credit card statements, utility invoices, etc. etc. are all susceptible to errors. And with the ever-present risk of hackers or other crooks intercepting your most personal information, deliberate attacks on your accounts are a real possibility as well.
If you never look at those statements, assuming they are as they should be, you could be in for the worst possible shock.
It’s easier than ever to monitor your accounts if you have anytime online access to them. Going paperless isn’t just better for the environment, it’s a lot more convenient and efficient for you. You don’t have to wait for someone else to mail you a monthly statement or invoice. Instead, you can see where you stand right now, with just a few clicks. That means you can detect – and correct -- mistakes or fraud much sooner.
In many cases, your accounts can be set up so you receive text notification any time there is a withdrawal. You can also subscribe to LifeLock, a service that scans continuously to detect any usage of your personal identify information and then notifies you, to determine if the use was legitimate or fraudulent.
US law requires credit reporting agencies to give you one free credit report each year. Get those reports and study them carefully. Report any mistakes right away, because getting them corrected can take time.
Do you know your bank’s policies and procedures for fraud protection? Every financial institution is required to explain these details to customers, and your bank undoubtedly sent you paperwork at some point that did just that. But who among us ever reads that stuff? Turns out we should.
If a hacker or phisher gets past your best efforts to avoid them, you need to know what to do. What your responsibilities are and what your bank can and will do on your behalf. So call them and ask. Do the same for every one of your credit cards.
And speaking of credit cards, experts recommend you:
- Use your debit card if you’re withdrawing cash, but use a credit card for shopping.
- Use a separate credit card (or a pre-paid card) for online purchases, and keep the spending limit low.
- Ask your bank if they can issue you a one-time virtual credit card number to use when making an online purchase.
Ultimately, being a safe cyber citizen means taking responsibility for monitoring your own accounts, not relying on software and other third-party resources, no matter how good. Watch our blog for more hacks you can use for even safer cyber citizenship