Credit card theft is on the rise. As people do more and more shopping online, there are more risks to having your information compromised. It is not fun. In fact, it has happened to my husband and I.
Unfortunately, our number has been stolen around 2 or 3 times in the past couple of years. We have an amazing bank and the money is in our account within 24 to 48 hours, so we have not had an issue of being out our money or very long. The transactions have usually been $200 or less….until two weeks ago.
My husband logged in to check out something on our account and noticed a transaction to Joel Osteen Ministries for $1600. Upon further review, we noticed this same type of transaction 3 more times – all for around the same amount! We instantly called our bank and canceled the card and they started the process.
Around 36 hours later, we logged in again and saw that the money was in our account — a total of 5 transactions to the same payee totaling nearly $8000!!!! We were shocked. Then, when we stopped to think about it, we shook our heads.
How in the world steals money to donate to charity? Apparently, the person who stole to give to Joel Osteen missed the entire point of what he preaches. Isn’t that crazy?!!
There is no way for us to know how this information was stolen. It could have been phishing from a store, hacking through an online retailer or even the restaurant where we ate.
So, what can you do to try to prevent this from happening? There are a few things you might try.
PREVENTATIVE STEPS TO AVOID CREDIT CARD THEFT
- Make sure you shop online only using secure sites. These will show the padlock icon on them when checking out or will have https in the link.
- Try to pay with cash at restaurants or locations where they have to take your card out of your line of site to pay.
- Never use public computers or Wifi to make purchases. Make sure you are using your own secure network. If you are logging into any accounts on those public computers, make sure you clear the passwords before you leave.
- Do not shop at sites which may not appear to have good security. Just because they have that item for $5 less doesn’t mean it is a good deal if the site is not secure and your data can be hacked.
- Monitor your credit report to make sure that you know the credit in your name and can find any possible fraudulent activity.
- Use a gift card to shop online. Do not use one attached to your bank account. If the number is stolen, they will get limited funds.
- Log into your accounts regularly to check activity. One thing to watch for is SMALL transactions — usually less than $1.00. This is how many thieves check to make sure the card works without you noticing – as the amount is too small for most people to even notice.
- Never click on links in e-mails from ANYONE asking you to confirm information. They may look legit, but these are hackers. If you receive an email advising you that you need to change a password or update settings, go directly to the site and never click on the link within the e-mail.
WHAT DO TO IF YOUR INFORMATION IS STOLEN
Even when you do everything the right way, your information can still be stolen. This was the case at Target when it’s network was compromised. It is just going to happen. So, if you find out that your card information is stolen, here is what you should do.
- Stay calm. This can be easier said than done, but you need to keep your cool so that you can do everything you need to in order to rectify the situation.
- Contact your financial institution (bank or credit card company). They will close the account and will usually go over past or pending transactions to make sure that there is no additional purchases that should be addressed.
- You may also need to contact your local authorities (if the amount is large).
- Contact all three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — so that fraud alerts can be set up to monitor your reports. If you find errors, take steps to fix them immediately.
It is always smart to take precautions when shopping online. Even if you do everything right, you can still be a victim. But now, you will know what to do should it happen to you.