Prior to the 2016 Christmas holiday, I received a notification from my credit card company that they were tracking some suspicious card activity on my account. I immediately logged into my account and found over $500 in unauthorized charges being made for everything from household decorations to shoes. I contacted the online fraud department and confirmed their suspicions. They immediately closed down the account and issued me a new card, then credited back the unauthorized charges. I had just become a victim of online credit card fraud.
As online fraud becomes more and more prevalent it’s important you take whatever measures you can to be sure your accounts are safe. One of the practices I developed many years ago was that I never make online purchases with my bank card – checking or savings. My perspective is simple. I don’t want anyone other than me having access to my bank accounts. Obviously, credit card fraud can take place with any credit or debit card, but why expose your checking or savings account any more than you have to.
As discussed in Filling The Pig, I recommend simplifying the number of credit cards you have down to one, for emergencies. However, you could also leverage this credit card to pay for any online purchases. A single credit card will not only allow you to diligently keep track of your online purchases, but it also keeps your checking and savings account safe.
One final tip regarding credit cards and online fraud. Some credit card companies will allow you to set up a transaction alert. A transaction alert is a dollar amount threshold you specify to receive an email notification when charges made to your card are greater than the threshold. For example, if you set a threshold of $10, then you will receive an email notification each time a charge is made greater than $10. The transaction threshold for my credit card was automatically set up for $500. This is why I never received notification for the individual fraud transactions which were less than $500. Transaction alerts are another way of minimizing the potential impact of credit card fraud. Check with your credit card company to see if they provide transaction alerts and if they do find out what the current threshold limit is.