4 Ways to Protect Yourself From Credit or Debit Fraud


Being a victim of fraud can happen to anyone. When you least expect it, you may get a text message that your credit card has been used fraudulently. You might even log in to your bank account and notice that there are transactions that you didn't make. You can take a few steps to protect yourself and your family from being victims of fraud.

  • Use Your Credit Card Instead of Your Debit Card

  • Sign up for Email or Text Alerts

  • Report Fraudulent Activity Immediately

  • Monitor Your Accounts

Use Your Credit Card Instead of Your Debit Card


Using your credit card instead of your debit card to protect your financial information when making purchases online or at the gas pump is wise. If you are ever the victim of identity theft, online banks do not provide the same guarantees as credit card companies. Some banks may require you to prove that you have not made the reportedly fraudulent purchases, and you may be subject to a waiting period while the bank investigates the charges. Most credit card companies will cancel the fraudulent charges immediately and eliminate the need for you to pay for these purchases.


Sign up for Email or Text Alerts


There are time requirements involved with reporting fraudulent charges. If you don't report the fraudulent activity within 60 days, you may be liable to pay for any charges. Therefore, one of the easiest ways to protect your credit and financial information is to sign up for text or email alerts. Signing up for purchase alerts can notify you of charges that exceed a specific dollar amount or for charges that look suspicious. You can set the limit and receive immediate notification when you or your family make purchases.


Report Fraudulent Charges Immediately


The timeline for reporting fraudulent activity varies for credit card and banking institutions. The amount that you can be reimbursed also varies. For banks, you have between two to 60 days to report fraudulent activity. If you wait longer than 60 days, you may not receive any of your money back. Unauthorized use of your debit card at a bank can also cause you to lose between $50 to $500. So, you must report charges as soon as you notice them.


With a credit card, charges can be reversed if you report the fraudulent activity within the required timelines. For most credit cards, reporting fraud within 30 days can result in reversed charges. There is also a limit of $50 that you could be charged for fraudulent activity on your credit card. In addition, if charges occur in countries outside of where you live, the financial institution can cancel or put the charge on hold.



Monitor Your Accounts


Being diligent about monitoring your credit card and bank accounts can aid in identifying any fraudulent activity and keep your financial information safe. Checking your accounts at the minimum monthly can help you track your charges and identify any potentially fraudulent charges. Monitoring your accounts also ensures you meet the required timeline for reporting financial fraud. This can reduce the risk of you losing your hard-earned income.


Need additional guidance? See my feature in: The CFPB safeguards consumers against unfair and abusive practices by financial services companies.

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