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Credit Card Fraud Prevention Tips: How to Make Your Credit Cards Less Fraud Vulnerable

Last year, one of my family’s credit cards was used to fraudulently charge hundreds of dollars on Apple.com. Another card was compromised four times in a row as the thief repeatedly charged for merchandise and his Uber rides.

We were eventually refunded, but repeated credit card fraud can be frustrating and disappointing. By dealing with the aftermath, I’ve learned to put security over convenience and change the bad habits that make me an easy target.

Fraud reporting takes too long

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, consumers are required to report a false charge to their credit card issuer within 60 days of it appearing on their statement to avoid most liability. Amy Lofts-Gordon, attorney and legal editor for law site Nolo. (Law limits a consumer’s liability to $50 for each series of fraud, but most issuers waive that, Loftsgordon said.)

My heart sank when I learned that Apple.com account fraud began at least six months ago.

I’d noticed Apple.com prices skyrocketing, but I assumed my husband was buying audiobooks and my daughter was downloading games. I complained to them from time to time. They will proclaim their innocence and prosecutions will follow.

Finally, the thief went too far and charged over $300 in one month. After contacting Apple, we learned that our card had been used to purchase dating apps and virtual phone numbers, and electronic receipts for these purchases were sent to his unknown email address.

New cards didn’t stop fraud

The kicker: The thief used a credit card number that had already been reported as compromised. Credit card issuers typically reject new charges for compromised numbers. However, according to the card issuer, the thieves began their crime within days of the replacement cards being mailed. Since we were already a regular shopper at Apple.com, the card issuer deemed the charges made using the old card valid and “out of courtesy” allowed us to pay monthly. (I was convinced that this sequence of events was “extremely rare and rarely happens.”)

An Apple customer service representative deleted the most recent month’s charges, and the publisher deleted the remaining charges.

Summary: Sites that make multiple monthly purchases should be closely monitored for fake transactions. Compare the amount on your credit card statement with your purchase history on the site. You may have to search online for how to find that history — Apple certainly doesn’t make finding your charges easy or intuitive. Also, if you find a scam, report it even after the 60 day deadline has passed.

Never store card information in browsers or websites

It’s still not clear why my other card was compromised repeatedly.As soon as I got the replacement card, I got a text from the issuer asking about another suspicious transaction.

I deleted the card from browsers and websites where it was saved. While you may love the convenience of not having to enter your credit card number, anywhere you store your cards can be stolen, says a prominent vice president of research firm Gartner Inc. Analyst and security expert her Avivah Litan said.

The card’s mobile app allowed me to see the many places the card was stored. However, the list was not complete. After the 4th hack, the caller said my card was stored by him at Airbnb, Walmart.com and Uber. The representative disconnected the cards from those accounts. In the future, I will call to report fraud so that I can ask for this review instead of just responding to text warnings or going online. I also learned that the mobile app can “lock” the card to prevent unauthorized use. It only takes a few seconds to unlock when you want to charge. I hope more publishers offer this feature.

As suggested by the publisher, I ran antivirus and antimalware software (my device was clean) and changed the passwords on my email and financial accounts in case a thief got in. I was already using two-factor authentication on my financial and email accounts, requiring a code and password to sign in. I’ve also added it to my most used retail sites.

We also started using mobile payment systems whenever possible. These systems (Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.) create a “token” that is sent to the merchant so that your credit card number is never exposed or stored. Similarly, some credit card issuers offer a virtual number that you can use in place of your physical account number when making online purchases.

I don’t think this is enough to prevent fraud. Because it is impossible. I’m just trying to get the thief to try a little harder next time.

This column was provided to The Associated Press by personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a Certified Financial Her Planner and author of “Your Credit Score” She is a columnist for NerdWallet.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/credit-card-scams-prevention-liz-weston/ Credit Card Fraud Prevention Tips: How to Make Your Credit Cards Less Fraud Vulnerable

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