Reduce Your Credit Card Fraud Exposure

Here is a really, really simple tip for you to reduce (not eliminate) your exposure to credit card fraud.

This is for you as a credit card user  – not as a business accepting credit cards.

I use it and I can tell you from personal experience, it works.

Most banks offer the option to send you a text message EVERY SINGLE TIME your credit or debit card is used.  If yours doesn’t, whine at them till they do or change banks.  It happens in real time.  Here is how I use it.

If I go to a restaurant, for example, and pay by credit card, the server takes the card and runs it through the restaurant’s POS terminal.  Literally, before the server gets back to the table with the receipt for me to sign, I have gotten a text message that tells me the name of the establishment running the charge and the amount.

If I am somewhere and I get a text from my bank, and I don’t recognize the merchant, it has my interest.  In my case, since some of my cards are shared with my wife, I call or text her and ask if this was her.  If she says no, I am on the phone with my bank.  Not later.  Not tomorrow.  Now!  Shut down the card, get a new one.  The new one is free.  For most banks, if you press them, they will Overnight Express the new card to you.  For many banks, even that is free.

I had a charge pop up a few months ago from Babies R Us in Philadelphia for about $300.  Since I have not been in Philly in ten years and we don’t have any little kids, I called my wife to see if, maybe, she bought a gift for someone.  Nope.  Not the case.  On the phone with Wells (in this case) and poof that card was toast.  In a day or two we had new cards.

I am sure the crook was disappointed, but I don’t care and the bank is actually happy that you did it.

If you have cards with a spouse or kid and the cards have different numbers on them, you can have the text messages go to each family member.  If the cards all have the same number, then there is no way to split them out.  In my family, I watch the charges, so I get all the text messages.

To me, it seems simple.  You reduce your pain and anguish.  You don’t have to review the bank statements which would give the crook 30 days of play time.  You don’t have to keep logging on to your bank’s web site or app to check for charges.

And, it reduces your exposure to one charge.  Which the bank will eat anyway.

Free and simple.  Which I like.