How to avoid falling victim to credit card fraud when shopping online or travelling overseas

PHOTO: Pixabay

According to data from ride-hailing service provider Grab, Singaporeans are the most well-travelled in the Southeast Asian region. Another survey conducted in 2018 revealed that Singaporeans are among the most likely in Asia to make overseas purchases, only trailing behind Hong Kong.

However, our penchant for online shopping and frequent travels would mean that we are also more vulnerable to card fraud.

Though safeguards such as One-Time Passwords for online transactions are already implemented by card issuers, there's more that we can (and should) do to lower the chance of becoming yet another victim of fraudulent transactions.

#1 DISABLE OVERSEAS CARD USAGE WHEN IN SINGAPORE 

The disabling of card usage for overseas was introduced Singapore-wide in 2013 by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), following a major ATM card-skimming fraud that occurred in Jan 2012, in which around $1 million was stolen from the accounts of 700 local bank customers.

By disabling overseas credit card usage, your credit and debit cards cannot be used for overseas retail purchases outside of Singapore. This ensures that credit card details on your magstripe cannot be used fraudulently overseas, even if they were to be skimmed.

To enjoy this safety feature, you'll just have to deal with the minor inconvenience of activating the magstripe function whenever you want to use your card for overseas trips.

#2 ALWAYS KEEP YOUR CARDS WITHIN SIGHT

When you are out going shopping or dining - especially overseas - always be sure to keep your card within sight when making payments.

While cards with EMV chips can difficult to be replicated due to encryption, skimmers are still able to make use of your card information on the magnetic stripe.

By keeping your card in your sights, you deter skimmers from scrumptiously extracting data from your card and using the information in future for fraudulent transactions.

#3 LOOK OUT FOR SIGNS OF SKIMMING WHEN USING ATMS OVERSEAS

It pays to be extra careful when making withdrawals from ATMs overseas, as there have been documented cases of card skimmers installed at ATMs to steal card information.

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While there is no foolproof way to completely detect a card skimmer in ATMs, you can reduce the risk with good basic ATM habits.

Before using an ATM, you should first examine the card reader for signs of tampering. Card readers should be sturdily attached to the machine. If there are glue marks or tape sticking around the reader, or loose pieces of plastic or equipment sticking out from the reader, the reader might be compromised.

You should also take note of keypads with unusual thickness, as thieves may use a fake keypad to capture your PIN number.

If you do find something suspicious, avoid using the ATM and call the bank right away to report your suspicions.

#4 CHECKING THE LEGITIMACY AND SECURITY OF WEBSITE AND INTERNET CONNECTION

Coming to online shopping, taking a few simple steps can go a long way in ensuring peace of mind.

Always transact at a trusted site, and beware of misspellings of sites that use a different top-level domain, such as ".net" instead of ".com". Other tell-tale signs of a spoofed website include not having a valid SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate, which your browser will flag by not showing a padlock icon right beside the address bar.

You should also avoid using shared computers or public Wifi connections when making transactions online, as personal information can be captured easily over poorly-secured shared facilities.

#5 SUBSCRIBE TO BANK'S IN-APP, SMS OR EMAIL TRANSACTION ALERTS

Depending on the services provided by your card issuer, most will offer notification services via in-app notification, SMS or e-mail for every transaction made on your card.

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Notifications like this might seem annoying, but it can be useful to notify you of transactions that are fraudulent, especially for debit cards. This allows you to immediately contact the card issuer to block your card from further unauthorised transactions.

#6 CHECK TRANSACTIONS REGULARLY 

It is a good habit to check your transactions online regularly and thoroughly to spot fraudulent charges. If you do, notify your card issuer immediately to avoid further losses and potentially protect yourself from liability.

While most card issuers provide a $100 liability cap on fraudulent credit card transactions before the loss is reported to the bank, this cap only applies to cardholders who informed the bank on the loss of card or discovery of fraud immediately upon discovery.

Preventing card fraud is a shared responsibility between banks and cardholders. By adopting good habits whenever you shop overseas or online, you can minimise the risk of becoming a victim and still enjoy the convenience and benefits that cards confer.

This article was first published in Dollars and Sense.