Identity theft is sadly becoming a common problem, with new and surprising ways for thieves to gain important information about you, your bankcards and your current accounts.
What Is Credit Card Skimming
A technique called credit card ‘skimming’, where thieves copy the information held in your card’s magnetic stripe when your card is swiped, has become a well known way for thieves to access your accounts and make large withdrawals or purchases.
Using credit and debit cards safely and protecting your personal information has always been important, but going the extra step and following these tips on avoiding identity theft may help prevent you being caught up in card fraud.
Stopping Credit Card Fraud
Keep Information Separated
The first and most obvious tip is to keep all your personal information safe. Carrying as little identification as you can in your purse or wallet is helpful. If your wallet were to be stolen, the thief would have access to all your personal details.
Consider keeping driving licence details and national insurance numbers elsewhere, making it harder for thieves to know a lot about you and your lifestyle. Also, never carry information on your current accounts.
Shred Important Documentation
The same precautions apply when disposing of old bank statements. It will help to shred any banking correspondence, making sure any account numbers are unidentifiable. Likewise, dispose of old credit and debit cards safely by cutting them up carefully including the chip.
Protect Your PIN Number
When you are using your card, be sure to keep your PIN number out of sight. Never write it down anywhere or let others know the combination however much you trust them.
Watch Out For Recording Devices
Look out for anything unusual by a keypad before you use it. It has been known for recording devices to be positioned near PIN keypads so the numbers can be recorded. Your card is useless without your PIN, so make sure you shield the keypad when you use it with your body or free hand.
If you’re using an ATM machine, choose wisely. Look for anything out of the ordinary, such as any loose wires or hardware. If you have any suspicions, be safe and go elsewhere.
Watch Out For Skimming Devices
Also beware of anything attached to a cash machine or payment equipment. When you insert your card wiggle it about a bit to make sure nothing moves or becomes loose. Anything out of the ordinary could be a recording or skimming device.
Choosing safer cash machines for taking out money is a better option. Choose a machine in the foyer of your local bank for example, as these are less likely to have been tampered with.
Likewise, if you are paying for petrol at a station, the pay at pump services are likely to be safer as they will have CCTV cameras on them at all times.
Credit Card Vs. Debit Card Protections
It is worth remembering that certain places are more likely to be dodgy, such as petrol stations or restaurants. If you are concerned, consider paying with a credit card as credit card accounts offer more protection against fraud than debit cards.
At restaurants keep an eye on your card when paying, and watch that your card isn’t swiped through more than one machine. “Double-Swiping” can either result in a double charge, or they could be skimming your card. It very well could have been a bad read of the card as well, so be careful about over-reacting.
Watch Your Accounts Closely
Make a regular effort to monitor your current accounts and check statements. Query anything that looks unfamiliar as soon as you can, to avoid losing out. Also, consider checking your credit report at least once a year. You can also use tools such as Mint.com to monitor your accounts.
Keeping all these hints and tips in mind can help you fight the war against fraud and make sure you keep your personal information and finances under your own control.