Credit card fraud is the most common type of identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) most recent study, consumers reported nearly half-a-million credit card cases in 2020. While card fraud is an unfortunate reality for many, with some preparation and vigilance, you can prevent becoming a victim.

Here’s where to start.

Secure Important Documents

Your monthly statements may contain personal information such as your name, address, and account balances, which scammers could use to defraud you. To avoid this and be more environmentally friendly, sign up for paperless statements and do your banking online. If you prefer to receive account statements in the mail, file them in a safe place or shred them before you throw them away. Shred other documents, like pre-approved credit card offers, as a precaution.

Review Account Activity Regularly

While we’re on the subject of account statements, carefully review your monthly statements or online bank accounts for any errors or irregular activity. Unknown purchases or unauthorized recurring payments are two things to watch out for. Contact your bank immediately if you notice any unusual charges.

Watch Out for Skimmers

A skimming machine is a device fraudsters use to steal card information using the magnetic stripe or chip on your card. Scammers can place the inconspicuous device on card readers where an unsuspecting victim may swipe or insert a card. Skimmers are fitted atop the original machine, so a slight tug may dislodge the fraudulent device. The next time you are at an ATM, gas pump, or merchant with a card reader, gently wiggle the top portion (where the keypad is) and always cover up when entering your PIN.

Keep an Eye Out for New Cards

Replacement cards are sent out after old credit cards expire. Keep track of any expiring cards and ensure your address is updated with your creditor. Replacement cards sent to an incorrect address risk falling into the wrong hands. If you’ve expected a replacement card, but it hasn’t arrived, you should report it as lost or stolen before ordering a new one.

Safeguard Your Card Information Over the Phone

You should never give out your personal information, including your credit card number, to someone who has called you over the phone. This is risky as you often can’t verify the person’s identity on the other line. Instead, always contact your bank, credit company, or merchant directly. Verify that the number you’re calling is accurate before sharing any sensitive information.

Shop Securely

Have you ever noticed the small lock or key icon in the address bar of your web browser? Those symbols mean the site has a security certificate that your web service provider has verified to be safe to visit. Be wary and attentive to sites that do not have one of those symbols.

A lock or key icon usually indicates that a website has been vetted and deemed safe.

Stay Alert

With fraud so prevalent, it’s vital to stay vigilant to safeguard your information. Fortunately, there are useful tools to automate the process. For instance, setting up text and email alerts can help flag any unusual transactions. The sooner they are spotted, the sooner they can be stopped. These services are often free and easy to use. If you are a FirstBank customer, here’s how to sign up

To sign up for debit card alerts:

Visit efirstbank.com and log into online banking. Navigate to Online Banking>Alerts>Security Alerts and turn to ‘On.’

To sign up for credit card alerts:

Visit efirstbank.com. Navigate to Products>Credit Cards>Personal Credit Cards and scroll to the bottom. Complete steps 1-4 under Credit Card Fraud Alerts.

If You’re a Victim

If you have further questions or concerns or think you might be a victim of card fraud, please call FirstBank’s fraud department immediately at 800-964-3444, or call the number on the back of your card.

Fraud comes in many forms. Check out these tips to ensure you are aware of potential threats and doing the most to protect your information and money.

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