I was sitting at my desk when I got a text from my credit card provider: “Free Fraud Alert: Please call us ASAP”. Great. Not again. Yep, even me the owner of The Secure Dad has his credit card hacked. Once a year for the last three years, in fact.
I know Home Depot lost my information in a data breach and I suspect my card was skimmed at a gas station. This most recent time though, I have no idea how it was hacked. I’ve not had my card physically stolen, so it’s coming from some digital source. When I called my card company the very helpful representative said, this just happens now. Awesome.
Depending on their level of sophistication a bad guy can create a dummy version of your card that looks real enough to a sales clerk. When there is an issue, the thief then asks the clerk to run a manual override of the transaction that won’t require the chip to work. All that’s needed is a signature to complete the transaction. Nice workaround, right?
Unless the thieves can get your CVV number located on the back of your card, they can’t buy anything online. These numbers are not required for a purchase in person. Fraudulent transactions like this have to be done face to face at a point of sale and require certain degree of guile to execute.
It’s important to note that my card was flagged on two transactions that were a combined total of less than $6. That’s right only charges for less than $6 at a home improvement store. That seems like a typical charge for me.
Crooks do this to see if they can slip one past you and the card company. If they can, they’ll know they can charge much higher amounts to your card and sneak it by. It’s critical to monitor your transactions every month. These transactions were flagged for being two states away when I didn’t send in a travel notification.
Here’s what to do when your credit card has been hacked, and some tips for how to protect yourself going forward:
The first thing you need to do when you suspect, or confirm, that your card has been compromised is call your credit card provider. Most likely their phone number is on the back of your card.
When you’re on the phone with them, they’ll confirm your identity. If your card company contacted you, then your account will be flagged in their system. At this point you’ll go over any suspicious transactions.
Shut it Down
From here your credit card company will most likely revoke the suspicious transactions and cancel your card. They’ll issue you new ones as soon as they can. Don’t take their first offer of 7-10 days for delivery. Make a bit of a stink and demand that the new card be sent overnight. Chances are they’ll comply.
Set up fraud alerts if you haven’t already. Most companies can notify you by phone, text and email. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to minimize the damage of any future hack. Take it from me, it can happen again.
Make sure your account has location monitoring with it. Companies will consider transactions in other states suspicious when there is a sudden change in usage location. I try to remember to call my credit provider when I travel so that my account isn’t red flagged.
Confirm You’re Still You
After you are off the phone, log onto your credit provider’s website. Double check that all of your information is correct and that no one has changed your mailing address. If that checks out, then change your password for the account.
When you have your new card in your hands, don’t sign the back of it. Instead write the phrase, “See ID” in permanent marker. This will help if your card is ever physically taken. If the thief doesn’t have an ID with your name and their face on it, this will prevent a purchase.
If you decide to get a themed credit card with your favorite NFL team or Disney character on it, don’t post a picture of it online. While I know that sounds like a no-brainer, I discovered several public pictures on Facebook of personal credit cards with names, numbers and expiration dates visible to the entire world.
Also take the time to set up an account with a credit monitoring service. These services will monitor your credit for any changes in standing. These can be useful to see if someone has opened a card in your name without your knowledge.
While everything we’ve talked about will help you be safer with your credit card, it’s nearly impossible to protect your card all the time. Attacks become more sophisticated every week. As soon as the police solve a problem, another one arises. So be careful when and where you use your card and monitor your transactions.
For more on family safety and home security, consider The Secure Dad Newsletter.
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