We’ve all been there – on the receiving end of a phone call announcing we won a free trip to the Mediterranean, or an email informing us of a large sum of money sitting in a trust with our name on it. All we have to do is hand over a few pieces of personal information and we’ll be on our way to reaping the rewards. Right? Wrong.
Fraudsters attempting to get a hold of our personal information are doing so in more creative ways than ever before. Whether it’s an outright appeal for information in the form of a reward or fear-based communication (i.e. “your account has been compromised, please do the following”), or super stealthy schemes at the point-of-sale, preventing your information from falling into the wrong hands has become a collective priority.
The following tips can help keep your personal information where it belongs – with you, and you only.
1.When using a payment terminal in store, DON’T swipe if you can dip or tap.
Payment terminals can be easily rigged to skim magnetic stripe data for the purpose of creating counterfeit cards. Chip-based technology, when combined with use of a PIN, is nearly impossible to clone and helps to prevent fraud due to lost, stolen or counterfeit cards.
2.DON’T be afraid of convenience – “tap & go” contactless payments may seem less secure because you’re not entering your PIN, but these transactions run over the same secure network as Chip and PIN.
“Tap & go” payments leverage contactless technology, which runs over the same secure network as Chip and PIN credit and debit card transactions. Contactless transaction limits, which are capped at $100 per purchase, also help to protect you from fraud.
3.Be wary of people asking you for your personal information over email, phone or social media. DON’T ever give your personal information out if you’re not 100% certain of who’s on the other end.
Otherwise known as “phishing,” messages prompting you for your personal or banking information, especially as a way to redeem a prize or remedy a problem (i.e. a hacked account), are worthy of your suspicion.
4.When you’re entering your card information online, DO make sure the webpage has a URL that starts with “https” – that “s” stands for “secure”
If you shop online regularly, take the extra step of registering for free online fraud tools offered by the card brands to authenticate cardholder identity – i.e. Verified by Visa and MasterCard Secure Code prompt you to enter a password each time you make a purchase with a participating online merchant.
5.DO check your receipts and account statements. If you’re being charged for anything you shouldn’t be, alert your bank immediately.
An extra amount of vigilance can go a long way. Keep tabs on your account activity and store all receipts in a safe place to refer to if you are ever in a position where you suspect fraud.
The next time you are tempted to cash in on a prize you don’t remember entering a contest for, or a shop clerk insists that you swipe your card instead of inserting it, keep these handy tips in mind. Most types of fraud are perpetrated with stolen information, so building up an internal alarm system for potential fraud flags can create a strong defense. If something just doesn’t feel right, chances are, it’s probably not.