About a month ago, I got a call from Discover about an attempted purchase at an H&M in New York for around $US200.
I had been in Boston — with my Discover card — when the attempt was made, so needless to say, I had not been the one to make that purchase.
Discover closed my account and sent me a new credit card.
A couple weeks later, I got a text from Citibank asking if I had made a purchase at a TGI Friday’s in Brooklyn for $US110.60.
I can’t remember the last time I went to a TGI Fridays. I called Citibank and told them this. They proceeded to close my account and overnight me a new debit card.
It was then that I decided it was time to start taking some precautions when using my cards.
Here’s what I’m doing in hopes that the shiny new credit card and debit card which are in my wallet now will stay there for a while.
Whenever I can, I’m using cash instead of my credit or debit card.
With all the recent data breaches at big retailers, I figure the fewer stores that have my credit or debit card information, the better. Instead, I withdraw cash every morning to use throughout the rest of the day. Card information can also be stolen from an ATM though, which leads me to my next point.
I’m withdrawing cash from the same ATM.
Card skimming, when someone puts a fake card reader over an ATM’s real card reader, accounts for over 80% of ATM fraud, according to former Washington Post reporter and security expert Brian Krebs. Skimming devices are hard to detect since they look exactly like the real card reader beneath them. The more ATMs I go to, the greater chance I have of using one that has a skimming device, which is why I’m limiting my ATM use.
Fortunately, there is a Citibank branch with multiple ATMs right below my apartment building — which I will admit, is a large part of the reason I switched to Citibank — so I’ve been sticking to that location for withdrawals
I’m checking card activity online daily.
Before my two cards were compromised, I didn’t always watch my credit and debit account activity very closely. So if Discover had not called me and Citibank had not texted me, the fraud might have gone unnoticed — at least for a while. Now, I try to log into both my credit and debit card accounts every day. This way, I can see the purchases that have been made that day — if any — and make sure they’re my own and not someone else’s.
I’m not signing onto my online banking accounts from any computers besides my own.
When I check my account activity, I do it either from my own laptop at home or from my phone. Signing on to my accounts from a public computer seems riskier, since there’s the chance that my login information will be saved and available to the next user of that computer.
To be on the safe side when using my phone, I make sure to enter my log in information every time I sign on (instead of having my phone remember it), and in the event that my phone is stolen or I lose my phone, I can simply deactivate it.