In recent times, there has been a spate of news items revealing a credit card fraud. In one such item, two youngsters were caught duping credit card holders by offering them new credit cards with higher credit limits by trading in their old credit cards. The youngsters then used the old cards to make their purchases, mostly electronics.
This is how they laid the plot. They would call up credit card holders representing themselves as employees of the credit card company. They would inform these clueless customers about a new scheme about new credit cards with greater purchase limits in exchange of old ones.
Then they would also inform customers that the company's representative would soon visit them with the new card, which would be activated as soon as they filled in a form!
This news only reinstates the importance of being a vigilant customer and using credit cards with utmost prudence. Here are a few things one can do:
- If you lose your credit card, it is necessary to inform your credit card company immediately. This will enable the card issuer to freeze the card with immediate effect and prevent any purchases on the card. The important thing for you is that your liability is limited once you inform the credit card issuer.
- Destroy your old card completely before you begin using your new card. This is important even if your old card has expired or you are upgrading your card.
- Keep your card in a safe place and do not allow other people to handle it.
- Be prudent about signing up for new offers. Double-check the genuineness of the scheme. A simple way to verify genuineness of any scheme is to call up the credit card company and inquiring with them.
- Change your PIN at regular intervals. Do not use obvious PIN like birth dates.
- Inform your credit card company immediately if you do not receive your monthly credit statement. It could be a case of identity theft where the fraudster has changed your billing address.
- Use chip based credit cards. These cards offer better security than credit cards with black magnetic stripes. This is because in a chip based card, all information is stored in the small chip in encrypted format and it also uses a PIN. This makes changing or copying this data extremely difficult. So, the chance of data being misused while swiping the card is very remote. It is the highest level of security that credit card companies can offer at present. Citibank and Kotak Mahindra issue chip based cards to select high range customers. Axis bank's VISA Platinum card is also chip-based. HDFC Bank also has begun issuing these cards.
- Be careful while shopping online. This is because you are required to give the CVV number for making purchases over the Internet. For this, be sure you shop only from secure websites. Ensure that the website is certified by VeriSign. Look for a yellow lock on the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
- If you have a large credit limit on your card and use it frequently for several purchases including online and telephone purchases, it is a good idea to get your card insured. You cannot prevent credit card fraud but at least minimize its impact on your financial stability! You can protect yourself from fraudulent charges on your card up to 12 hours before reporting the loss to the credit card issuer.