First, I received emails from my credit union that $1,500 then $2,300 were possible fraudulent charges. I called and sure enough, a scammer from Sweden was trying to charge those amount to my credit card.
The credit union flagged the fraudulent charges, and the money was never charged to me.
My credit card was canceled.
Then, later the credit union called about three possible fraudulent charges.
How did scammers get my credit card number and make charges with it? I have no idea.
Here are tips from the California Attorney General’s Office on how you can lower your risk of becoming a victim credit card scams.
- Protect your Social Security number.
Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet. If your health plan, other than Medicare, or another card uses your Social Security number, ask the company for a different number.
- Fight ‘phishing’ – don’t take the bait.
Scam artists “phish” for victims by pretending to be banks, stores, or government agencies. They do this on the phone, in emails, and in the regular mail. Don’t respond to any request to verify your account number or password. Legitimate companies don’t request information this way.
- Use good password practices.
Use different passwords for all your accounts. Make passwords strong with at least eight characters, including a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols such as $+r0^gh@h@. Hide them safely, and keep them handy.
- Don’t give out too much information on social networks.
What you share on social networks – your home or email address; children’s names; birth date; and more – is what tech-savvy thieves use for scams, phishing, and account theft. Don’t over share.
- Shield your computer and smartphone.
Protect your personal information on your computers and smartphones. Use strong passwords. Use firewalls and virus and spyware protection software that you update regularly.
Steer clear of spyware. Download free software only from sites you know and trust. Don’t install software without knowing what it is. Set Internet Explorer browser security to at least “medium.” Don’t click on links in pop-up windows or in spam e-mail.
- Click with caution.
- Check your statements.
Open your credit card bills and bank statements promptly. Check carefully for any unauthorized charges or withdrawals and report them immediately. Look at small amounts, too. Some scammers use them to “test” the credit card account before charging a huge amount. Call if bills don’t arrive on time. It may mean that someone has changed contact information to hide fraudulent charges.
- Stop pre-approved credit offers.
Stop most pre-approved credit card offers. They make a tempting target for identity thieves who steal your mail. Have your name removed from credit bureau marketing lists. Call 888-5OPTOUT or 888-567-8688. Or opt out online at www.optoutprescreen.com.
- Check your credit reports – for free.
Monitor your credit history. You can get one free credit report every year from each of the three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Request all three reports at once, or spread out your requests, ordering from a different bureau every four months. More comprehensive monitoring services from the credit bureaus cost from $44 to more than $100 per year. Order free annual credit reports by phone at 877-322-8228 or online at www.annualcreditreport.com. Or you can mail in a form.
- Ask questions.
Ask questions when a business or agency requests your personal information. Ask how it will be used. Ask how it will be shared, and how it will be protected. Explain that you’re concerned about identity theft. If you’re not satisfied with the answers, consider taking your business elsewhere.