Debit and Credit Card Fraud Warning Signs

Recognizing the signs of debit and credit card fraud can be very important in acting quickly to prevent further loss. Nearly 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft, according to a survey by the Harris Poll.  The Federal Trade Commission reported that 33% of all identity theft complaints are related to credit card fraud. That equals a lot of havoc for credit and debit cardholders.

Credit card fraud and debit card fraud can happen in different ways. You may have lost or had your credit or debit card stolen. We’ve all been there. You’re in line for your morning coffee and bagel, and when it’s time to pay, you can’t find your debit card? Did I lose it or did someone take it? Panic immediately sets in. Maybe you still have your cards, but a thief has somehow gotten ahold of your credit or debit account number, PIN number, password or other personal information. Whatever the cause, your card information has been compromised and someone is out there on a spending spree.

Skimming & Phishing

Skimming and phishing are two tactics used by identity thieves to get your credit and debit card information, as well as other personal information. Skimmers are electronic devices that have been placed by thieves at ATMs and gas station pumps to read a card’s magnetic strips and read details. It’s important to be watchful when you are inserting your card to be sure nothing looks out of the ordinary. Phishing, on the other hand, refers to solicitous emails, phone calls or letters that request your credit card, debit card or other personal information. Thieves are hoping that an unsuspecting consumer will give the information freely. They usually bait unsuspecting consumers with promises of a prize they won or even a free trip. Always be suspicious of calls like this. 

Once your credit or debit card security has been breached in any way, it’s important to spot fraudulent activity immediately, so you can take the steps necessary to put an immediate stop to any potential charges.  Forewarned is forearmed as they say, so be on the lookout.

Seven signs of debit & credit card fraud 

1.     Notification from your credit union or bank of a suspicious transaction. Many financial institutions, such as Spirit Financial Credit Union, use fraud alert detection systems to help protect members. This continuous monitoring of credit and debit card activity can help identify and prevent fraudulent transactions.

2.     Unexplained withdrawals from your bank account.

3.     Suspicious charges on your credit card or debit card.

4.     You spot unfamiliar accounts or unfamiliar inquiries on your credit reports.

5.     You mysteriously stop getting bank or credit card statements in the mail.

6.     Debt collectors are calling about debts that aren’t yours.

7.     Merchandise arrives at your home that you didn’t order.

The above seven signs of card fraud are important indicators of credit or debit card fraud. It’s so important to be aware and act quickly to protect yourself and your money. If you notice unauthorized transactions or withdrawals in checking or savings account, notify your credit union or bank immediately and have them freeze the account. If someone has made an unauthorized purchase using your credit card, contact your credit card company immediately to freeze the account and report the fraud. Many credit card companies have a zero-liability fraud policy. This means you wouldn’t be responsible for any fraudulent charges. You are also protected by federal law, which limits your liability for fraudulent credit card charges to $50 for any fraudulent charge. If you report the card as stolen before it is used, you are not responsible for any charges.

You may also want to contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian or TransUnion – and ask to put a fraud alert or initial security alert on your credit report. The agency you notify will notify the other two. This alert on your report will let creditors know they should contact you before granting credit in your name. It’s an extra precaution if you are unsure as to how much of your information has been actually been compromised 

Six ways to protect yourself from credit and debit card fraud

1.     Monitor your credit card and bank account activity and transactions often. Be sure to check the pending transactions as well. The more often you check your statements and transaction history, the quicker you will spot any suspicious activity.

2.     Check your credit reports regularly. Visit for information.

3.     Protect your credit and debit cards. Only carry what you will be using. Keep the rest safely locked up at home.

4.     Be cautious when shopping online. Make sure the site is secure. Look for a little padlock and https on the address bar.

5.     Sign your credit and debit cards as soon as they arrive.

6.     Don’t fall victim to a phishing scam. Someone asking you to provide information over the phone? It’s important to know with whom you are sharing your personal information. Be sure you are talking to a trusted source. Suspicious? Don’t give any information. 

If you don’t already have fraud detection for your cards, enroll in a credit monitoring or identity theft protection service, like our free MobiMoney app. Set up alerts, so they are delivered right to your mobile phone. Be sure to alert your credit union or credit card company before you travel as well, so they can update the fraud detection system to allow access from your travel destinations.

Remember, your best defense in protecting yourself from debit or credit card fraud is proactively monitoring your accounts. Read more financial tips on the Spirit Financial Blog or follow us on social media. Be watchful and protect yourself from credit and debit card fraud. 

Greg Quinn