Tips for Protecting Your Credit Card Data From Hacks and Fraud
It seems as if there’s a new hack or security breach almost every day. What’s worse is that several months may pass before the public is made aware of a major security breach of their financial or personal data. Rather than wait to become a potential victim, it’s best to take proactive measures against preventable hacks and fraud.
Use a Credit Monitoring Service
It’s best to catch hacks and credit card fraud ASAP after such an incident happens. By using a credit monitoring service, you’re immediately alerted when a new account is opened in your name. If you get an alert for an account you didn’t personally open or authorize, contact the company and tell them your identity has been stolen and that you did not open the account. Do what you can to make it difficult for the hacker to use the newly opened account, and take steps to close the account as soon as possible, alerting credit bureaus of the fraudulent account so it can be removed from your credit report.
Keep a Close Eye on Your Bank Statements
Get into the habit of looking over your credit card transactions every few days. Look for suspicious charges that you don’t recognize. Depending on your credit card provider, you may be able to set up mobile alerts so you receive a text message every time you use your card, making it easier and faster for you to be alerted of fraudulent charges. If you ever encounter a charge you didn’t authorize, contact your credit card company immediately.
Freeze Your Credit
If you know you won’t open new credit card accounts anytime soon, consider freezing your credit. When you freeze your credit, your credit report becomes inaccessible, making it that much harder for hackers to open fraudulent accounts because creditors are unable to pull your credit report or check your credit score. This is one of the greatest proactive moves you can make in regards to protecting your personal and financial data. That said, know that it can take a few days to unfreeze your credit so you can open a new account in the future, so keep that in mind before choosing this option.
Use Strong Passwords
Hackers may attempt to break into your credit card account online to access sensitive data. You can prevent this by sealing your account tight behind a strong password. You can use a password generator to make it easier to come up with a password that’s not easy to guess but is easy for your computer to remember. You can take this protection one step further by changing your password every few months.
Additionally, you can also opt for two-factor authentication as an added security measure. The way it works is you’ll receive a special code on your phone to gain access to your account. That way, even if a hacker guesses your password, she or he won’t have access to the special code. You’ll also be alerted that someone may be trying to break into your account.
Use Different Passwords
Once you’ve found a solid password, you may feel tempted to use it for all your financial accounts. While understandable, this is a bad idea. Should a hacker gain access to one account by uncovering your password, it means all your other accounts are vulnerable. Schedule time every few months to sit down and use a quality password generator to create new passwords for your credit card and bank accounts. It may not take as long as you think, and you’re sure to feel it’s time well-spent.
Set Up Fraud Alerts
Besides freezing your credit and using a credit monitoring service, you can also make good use of fraud alerts. The way these alerts work is that any company that pulls your credit will get an alert noting your information may be compromised. That way, they’ll take extra steps to verify the identity of the person attempting to open an account with your information.
Check Your Inbox
Rather than going directly after your credit card account, hackers may instead target your email accounts in the hopes of accessing messages from your bank or credit card provider. Messages could have account information that makes it easy to use your credit card for fraudulent charges. There are ways when you can’t when you can’t pay a credit card. Sift through your inbox once a month for sensitive messages and delete them if you no longer need them. Chances are, the same messages are accessible directly through your bank or credit card account.
Choose Your Credit Card Carefully
When you willingly open a new credit card account, do some careful research into the security measures the company uses to protect customers. After all, what’s the use of having great credit card rewards if your account is quick and easy for criminals to access? A card that offers little in the way of rewards but provides maximum security could be your best bet.
While there are no guarantees that you will never become the victim of a credit card hack, there is a lot you can do to put powerful barriers in place. See how these tips work for you.