Have you ever been a victim of credit card fraud? I was, a few years ago, right after a vacation in Las Vegas, and it was pretty scary!

Credit card fraud happens when an individual uses someone else’s credit card or credit card information to make fraudulent purchases or take unauthorized funds.

Credit card fraud usually goes hand in hand with identity theft.

How Does Credit Card Fraud Occur?

Credit card fraud can happen in several ways from a simple theft of the actual card to a store or company website getting hacked.

It can be the result of responding to phishing emails or suspicious emails that claim to be from your bank or credit card company and ask for your personal information.

It can happen if a dishonest salesperson uses a client’s credit card information for his own gains. It can happen if someone secretly scans your credit card and copies the information from the magnetic strip on the back.

Credit card fraud is a common crime these days and it’s important that you know how to protect yourself against it.

How Can You Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud?

As with similar types of fraud or theft, vigilance is really the key to protecting yourself against credit card fraud. There are several ways to make it harder for any criminal to commit this crime against you and here are six of them.

Secure your physical credit cards.

Consider keeping your credit card separate from your money or your wallet. It lowers the risk in the event that your wallet gets stolen or lost.

If you have more than one credit card, don’t keep them all in one place or carry them all at one time. If you have to leave your credit card at home, hide it in a safe place, preferably under lock and key.

Secure your credit card information.

Keep your credit card PIN confidential. Keep a record of your credit card number, details, the contact information in case of loss, and keep this in a secure place.

When you use your credit card to make online purchases, make sure it is a secured site and that your transaction is encrypted.

Be aware when making credit card purchases.

Make sure to keep an eye on your credit card when you use it to buy items at a store. Check your receipts before signing them and save your copy for reference. You can use these receipts for checking when you receive your credit card statements.

If you pay for your meal at a restaurant with your credit card never let the waiter\waitress walk away with your card. If they cannot process the transaction in front of you then follow them to their nearest cash register, with your credit card in hand.

Also you will find locations that now use a credit card pos machine, along with an iPad, which allows them to accept cash or credit cards as payment.

Secure your credit card statements.

Keep your credit card statements in a safe and secure place. Make sure to shred them when you decide to throw them away.

Monitor your credit card transactions.

Check your account regularly to make sure all the transactions are valid. You can take advantage of alert services from your credit card company so you can receive notifications via email, text or phone call every time charges have been made with your credit card.

Report suspicious charges or credit card loss immediately.

If you notice any questionable transactions, report it immediately. If your credit card gets lost or stolen, report it immediately so that your credit card company can have it flagged as such and no one will be able to use it.

What to do if it happens to you

If you think someone has been fraudulently using your credit card, take note of the suspicious charges and report it immediately. Contact your credit card company and any other companies that may be related to the suspicious transactions and inform them of the situation. Contact the local authorities and report the incident. It is also important to know your rights and responsibilities in the event of credit card fraud.