Having experienced credit and debit card fraud within a week—a rare occurrence nobody ever needs—I feel the pressing need to share this information.
There are problems that come with the extreme convenience we’re afforded these days, and no one is safe from one of the most aggravating ones: card fraud. It’s been rising exponentially as scammers get craftier in how they steal financial data.
The good news? There are some simple steps you can take to slash your risk of becoming a victim. Some of them are a bit inconvenient, but if they help you keep your hard-earned money safe? I’d take that any day.
Firstly, How do Credit and Debit Card Fraud Occur?
Credit and debit card fraud is more common than you think, and here are some ways this happens.
1) “Brute Forcing’
Scammers use automated software to generate hundreds of different card numbers. They then test them, using sites that do not require OTPs, beginning with small amounts. Once they get a hit, they have your details. The unauthorised transaction amounts increase over time.
It’s a common misconception that banks generate OTPs. They do not: it’s the e-commerce website that sets this up.
Be extra careful when there is no ‘https‘!
Please be cautious when shopping online or entering your card details on websites. Sites like Taobao and Etsy offer you the option to save your card details: uncheck this every time. Only provide your information on trusted sites with ‘https’ in the URL and a padlock icon. Never enter it on unsecured ‘http’ sites.
2) Skimming and Shimming Devices
Skimming and shimming are techniques thieves use to steal your card data. Be on alert for these sneaky devices when using ATMs or payment terminals.
Skimmers are devices thieves attach to ATMs, and gas pumps, and store checkout readers to steal your card data. They look identical to the real card reader but have a magnetic strip reader and camera to capture your PIN. Always give the card reader a little tug before swiping your card to ensure nothing is attached. If it looks different or is loosely attached, don’t use it. You should also keep a lookout for “bulkier” card insert slots.
Be wary of fake pin pads, too!
Shimmers, on the other hand, are harder to spot. They’re wafer-thin devices inserted into the card slot to read and store your chip card data.
When paying with a chip card, observe closely as the reader pulls in and returns your card. If it seems slow or makes unusual sounds, there may be one inside. Cancel the transaction immediately and don’t enter your PIN.
3) OTP Diversions
Fraudsters obtain your mobile number, hack into overseas telco systems, and change your location information to make it seem like you’re abroad and roaming. The OTP notifications get sent to these overseas telcos, and you will not be updated.
How Can I Reduce Fraud Incidences?
Sometimes, you’re just plain unlucky like me and can’t do anything about it. Still, you can minimise the chances of things happening.
1) Keep Your PIN Private and Diligently Check Your Statements
Never share your card’s PIN, let alone write it down. If you must write it down, keep it in a secure location far from your wallet.
Regularly check your statements to catch any unauthorized charges early. An easy way to make it a habit is to do this every time you make a purchase, no matter how small.
Be wary of unsolicited requests for your card number or personal information! Legitimate companies will never ask for your PIN or CVV (card verification value).
2) Set Up Transaction Alerts
Using virtual cards (only if you’re comfortable) and setting up transaction alerts are two of the best ways to reduce your risk of fraud.
Transaction alerts can be set up for transaction amounts as low as $0.01, so do this! You’ll be able to catch fraudsters at the credit card testing stage (where they spend small amounts to see if your card is active) and minimise the damage. notify you anytime your card is used so that you can catch unauthorized charges quickly.
When you get an alert for a charge you don’t recognise, don’t panic.
Before you call your bank to report fraud, go into your bank’s app and disable any transactions. For DBS/POSB cards (as an example), it looks like this:
3) Use Credit over Debit
Since debit cards draw money directly from your bank account, unauthorized charges can be more damaging if charge disputes fail.
With the ease of contactless transactions, most of us rarely touch our debit cards anymore. Consider disabling all online and overseas transactions for additional ease of mind!
Really, just stay incredibly vigilant. Remaining cautious and proactive is your best defence against becoming a victim of card fraud. While no system is 100% foolproof, taking action and staying aware of the latest scams will give you more peace of mind when making purchases or banking online. Stay safe out there!
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