June Low opened her credit card statement and nearly fell off her chair when she saw the owed amount. Almost RM3000 spent in one day at various merchants; the names of which she didn’t recognise. Frantic she called the bank but the officer confirmed that there was no mistake and the amounts were transacted through her card.
She dug through her purse and realised with a sinking feeling: her credit card was gone and she didn’t know when it had actually gone missing. With some investigation she pieced the story of the missing credit card.
During a shopping trip, she paid with her card and was distracted during the process. She unwittingly left the credit card with the cashier. The cashier was a part timer and had stolen the card to make purchases with.
“If only I had paid more attention and been more vigilant, this wouldn’t have happened.”
After making a police report and much back and forth with the bank, June was able to get the amounts written off and the fraudster was apprehended. June was lucky that her case involved an inexperienced thief: for many, the thief is never caught and the victims are saddled with debt they never incurred.
There are many things one can do to prevent falling victim to credit card fraud. Here’s a few to remember.
- Upon receiving your credit card; immediately sign the back. This may not completely prevent fraud but a conscientious cashier may notice differences in the card signature and the person forging.
- Always keep transaction receipts to compare these with your statement at the end of the month. If possible, periodically check online statements for transactions posted as and when. Most banks offer online banking for credit cards. This will help you notice any suspicious activity sooner. RinggitPlus CEO, Yuen Tuck only caught a fraudulent purchase on his credit card due to painstakingly keeping each slip and comparing it to his detailed statement at the end of each month.
- Always give the cashier full attention when using your credit card. Don’t be distracted and always check your wallet upon leaving the store to ensure all your credit cards are there.
- Sign up for SMS notification for any purchase equaling RM100 or more. Banks allow you to set the minimum amount for which you would like to receive notification upon swiping. Set the amount to as low as possible. It’s a drag to your phone inbox but the peace of mind will be worth it.
- Sign up for Verified by Visa or SecureCode by Mastercard if you are an online shopper. For more tips on staying safe online: check our previous article on safe online shopping.
- Never send your credit card details to anyone. Should you need to make a payment online, ensure the site through which the details are sent are using at least a 112-bit encryption. You can usually check this by hovering your mouse over the left hand corner of the URL bar and right-clicking on the padlock icon. Select ‘connection’ to see this dropdown box of information.
An example of a secure sign in site’s security information on a Chrome browser. This site uses a 256-bit encryption but a 112-128 bit should work well enough.
- Never give your credit card number, PIN or CVC number (that’s the number on the back of your card for Visa and MasterCard and on the front right hand side of your American Express) over the phone be it to the bank or anyone else.
- Always report a lost or stolen card immediately and take note of the date and time you lost it (if you’re not sure, the closest estimate) and inform the bank officer as much.
- Premium credit cards with higher credit limits do offer insurance against credit card theft and fraud. Find out if yours does and sign up.
Credit cards are a great convenience but with it come some amount of risk so make sure you’re protected from fraud.