I look forward to fielding questions about credit and money management for Dimespring.
In my family we talk honestly about money, because we think it’s a healthy thing to do. I made it an early priority for my child to understand how money works, which will help her achieve long-term financial health.
In my work I am responsible for outreach at one of the largest nonprofit credit counseling agencies in the country. So I’m accustomed to people coming to me after a presentation on money basics with follow up questions. They want to know about credit card regulations, how to get out of debt and what they can do to buffer themselves against the possibility of a financial setback.
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I’d like to offer my best advice to the readers of Dimespring. And, along the way, perhaps even help them resolve financial challenges and build economic security for themselves and their families.
Let me jump right in and tackle the first question.
[ Q ] People often ask, how can credit card fraud occur when they still have their card?
Even though your plastic seems safely tucked away in your wallet, there are both high-tech and low-tech ways for thieves to make charges to your account.
An unscrupulous guy good with technology might hack into your online bank account or send you deceptive emails designed to trick you into giving up online account credentials. One very sophisticated scheme called “skimming” involves attaching an inconspicuous electronic device to the card slot of an ATM. The device records your account information to be exploited later.
These technologically advanced frauds tend to get most of the media attention, but there is still a lot of old fashioned credit card fraud to guard against.
When you take a credit card out of your wallet and hand it to a cashier, be aware if people standing behind you are staring at the handoff. A common fraud as old as the first credit cards is to stand behind someone and memorize the card numbers and PIN.
Another fraud that’s been around as long as we’ve had credit cards is perpetrated by the people who process your credit card payment, such as servers at a restaurant. One version is to inflate the amount charged after you leave the restaurant. Another is to write down the account number for later use.
The reality is that by using credit cards you have accepted some level of vulnerability. But by maintaining a healthy level of suspicion when you take your card out of your wallet or give out your account information, you can minimize your worries when it’s put away.
And if you have access to your accounts online, it’s a good idea to check them regularly for any unauthorized activity. Most credit card companies limit your exposure to fraud, but the sooner you can report a problem and limit the damage, the better.