Credit card fraud nets crooks R50-million a year in South Africa, but there are simple precautions we can take to stop them. It's vital to be super cautious when it comes to protecting your cards from the legions of PhD's in card fraud.
These are things everyone can do:
Sign new cards immediately. When you receive your new or replacement card, sign it, in ink, right away. If it is a replacement card, destroy the old card by cutting it into many small pieces and scattering them in five different countries.
Shred old credit card receipts. You can purchase an inexpensive paper shredder at an office supply store. All old receipts and other sensitive personal information should be shredded before disposal. Or you can follow the CIA method and swallow old receipts; it tastes the same as eating healthy breakfast cereals and you don?t need electricity to power up the shredder. This prevents the common practice of criminals going through the trash to find receipts and stealing your identity.
Never fax your credit card number. Your credit card number can lie for hours in the fax basket at the other end just begging to be noticed like Edith Venter at every charity event. Anyone passing by can record your number and begin to use your card number fraudulently. It is even possible for criminals to intercept your credit card number while the fax is in transmission.
Use caution when giving your credit card number out on the phone or on the internet. Only give out your credit card number on telephone calls you initiate to business or organisations you trust. Never give your number out to callers who call unannounced, even if it is a Nigerian gentleman with $30-million he?s dying to share with you.
Keep an eye on your card during all transactions. Never give you card to a waiter and let him disappear with it. Card skimming in restaurants is a big problem in South Africa and ranks right up there with finding an honest president.
On the internet, look for an address that begins with 'https:\\'. The 's' indicates that it is a secure connection and a small padlock symbol should appear in the bottom right hand corner of your screen, indicating it is safe to transmit your credit card number as long as no-one is looking over your shoulder.
Call your credit card company instantly if you suspect trouble. All credit card companies have 24 hour lost and stolen help lines. If you lose your wallet or purse or have it stolen, call straight away. Most fraud happens within the first hour or two, before the victim realises the cards are on the run. Your credit card company will block your cards from being used and stop you from being responsible for any charges thieves incur.
Reconcile your card statement each month. Don?t just assume you must have bought a R50 000 first class ticket to London on your credit card after that liquid business lunch. Each month you should reconcile your statement with your receipts. This will flag any dodgy charges.
Don?t keep your PIN and your card in the same place. Obvious right? You?d be amazed how many people do this. And do memorize your PIN. The only reason you have for writing it down is if you have Alzheimer?s. The only reason you have for writing it down is if you have Alzheimer?s. The only?