According to a recent article by the Casper Star Tribune, two out of five cardholders in the United States have been victims of credit card scams. Though some people only lose a few bucks after dealing with credit card scams, others aren’t so lucky. In fact, people often end up losing thousands of dollars.
Identity theft, and more specifically credit card fraud, is so frequent that total losses have accumulated to astonishing sums. In 2016 alone, 15.4 million people in the U.S. were victims of identity theft, racking up a total of $16 billion in costs. Specifically, the current to-date estimate of total losses from credit card fraud is around $136 billion.
The Star Tribune puts that huge number in perspective.
“At an average loss of $1,319, credit card scammers have racked up approximately $136 billion in fraudulent charges – more than the current market value of McDonald’s or General Electric and greater than the GDP of 132 countries,” they report.
In 2017, credit card fraud accounted for 16.8% of all identity theft. And still, many of us rarely carry cash anymore, favoring the convenience of a card swipe or quick chip read.
Though you may be tempted to cut all your credit cards in half and begin using cash exclusively, don’t fret just yet. There are plenty of steps you can take to protect your identity and your bank accounts.
Here’s a quick list of easy steps you and anyone else can take to avoid credit card fraud:
- Carry cards separately from purse or wallet in case of theft.
- Never sign a blank receipt, and instead draw a line through any blank spaces where you don’t intend to authorize additional charges.
- Never lend credit cards to children or even roommates.
- Be sure to check accounts as often as possible to notice suspicious charges.
- Avoid leaving receipts, statements, and cards around your home.
- Avoid giving card information over the phone, unless you’re absolutely sure you trust that company.
- Don’t put card information in emails. Instead, make purchases directly on a company’s website.
- Keep anti-virus software up to date to keep hackers at bay.
- shred sensitive documents to keep criminals from accessing your info by digging in the trash.
- When making a purchase, try to keep your card in sight if you have to hand it over the counter.
Although this list is not comprehensive, it can help you get started on protecting your card information. A little diligence can stop credit card criminals, so you can keep your money in your pocket and avoid huge blows to your finances.