WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CREDIT CARD HAS BEEN COMPROMISED
There’s no denying that Americans are in love with their credit cards; but increasingly, the romance is rocked by the actions of unsavory characters seeking to come between them. More specifically, they’re seeking to steal your credit card information and they are relentless in pursuing any and all technological means to get it.
They will go after the big, “secure” data bases of our banks and credit card processers, and they will go inside your computer where they can watch every keystroke you make. Short of never using your credit card again, you are the last line of defense in preventing an outright assault that could rob you of your identity and your money. You need to know what to do if your credit card has been compromised.
They Will Pursue You at Home
Perhaps the most pernicious method of cyber-theft today is known as “keylogging” in which online fraudsters dispense a virus into your operating system to “tap” your keyboard. From that point on, they can record your every keystroke. Every entry of sensitive account information, passwords, and PINs, is captured enabling fraudsters to gain access to your financial accounts as if they were you.
You can protect yourself from keystroke logging by installing dependable anti-virus software and ensuring your computer’s operating system is current with the most recent security patch. Never open emails or attachments from unknown sources. And avoid entering sensitive information on a computer with which you have no certainty of its security.
They Will Pursue You Where You Shop
But there is little you can do when hackers successfully breach a bank’s database and abscond with sensitive account information that includes your credit card account number and social security number. Although it is not very likely as banks and other repositories of sensitive customer data keep ramping up their security measures, the hackers are relentless in their pursuit. So if you happen to be one of the victims of a hack or cyber-theft from your computer, you need to take some immediate action in order to contain the damage.
Credit card skimming technology is also advancing to where fake credit card readers are much more difficult to spot. Often times a fraudster will dispense a virus into a credit card reader that directs it to forward the credit card information to a rogue database. Again, there is little you can do to prevent it other than being extremely vigilant in where you scan your cards.
You are the First Line of Defense
So, do you know what to do if your credit card has been compromised through any of these methods?
First, there is no need to panic. Credit cards issued through Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express all come with limited liability. The maximum cardholders are liable for in the case of fraud or theft is $50, and many credit cards will waive that in instances of cyber-theft or data hacking.
Second, contact your credit card issuer immediately. In the case of data breaches, the card issuer will contact the customers involved and offer a new credit card and account number. But, if your credit card is compromised due to your actions, they need to be informed right away.
Third, order a copy of your credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the credit bureaus. Scour your report for any unusual activities, and then inform the credit bureaus of your circumstances. They will begin to monitor your activities more closely.
- Make sure you have a high quality anti-virus program on your computer.
- Never use a public computer to send sensitive information.
- Try to carry just one credit card with you, placing the others in a secure location.
- Subscribe to a credit monitoring service to keep a closer tab on your credit activities.
- Identity theft services such as LifeLock can be priceless if you should ever fall victim.