Credit card fraud happens in a number of ways. Sometimes your bank or credit card company will notify you of fraud and other times they won’t. So it’s up to you protect yourself. Smart retailers on the other hand are already protecting consumers behind the scenes by implementing multiple layers of fraud protection.  

1. Whenever you hand over your credit card to anyone — a waiter, gas station attendant, store clerk, etc. — keep a close eye on them as long as they are in possession of the card, or at least watch the card as it is being processed. You want to see where your card is going, and how it’s being used. The idea is to make sure the card isn’t being “skimmed” with a device designed to collect card data. This is good advice when it’s possible, but since waiters typically take the card out of sight to process, it really only works in scenarios where the clerk never leaves the terminal.

2. Cover your PIN. This is absolutely necessary at any point-of-sale terminal or ATM. The public nature of these devices makes it very easy for someone to “shoulder surf” and see your PIN. A cell phone video camera over your shoulder, a video camera 50 feet away, binoculars, or even a hidden camera attached the to face of the ATM can all compromise your PIN.

3. Change your card number. With millions of card numbers hacked over the last few years, chances are yours has been compromised at some point. I have had three changes of credit cards due to proactive card issuers sending me a new card whether I liked it or not.

4. Check your credit card statements every day. This is an extra layer of protection that requires savant-like attention. You check your email every day, so checking your credit card statements every day is manageable, right? Even once a week is sufficient, and every two weeks is okay. Just be sure to confirm your bank’s cut-off date to refute unauthorized withdrawals. For most credit cards, it’s 60 days.

5. Protect your PC. Viruses on your computer will almost certainly result in account takeover. Install antivirus, anti-phishing, anti-spyware, and a firewall.

One very effective fraud detection technique smart retailers are using is to implement device identification and device reputation, which alert businesses to known fraudsters on their websites. iovation Inc. takes this service to another level by analyzing the device’s reputation to assess the potential risk of every transaction.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

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