Five fraud-busting tips to protect yourself and your credit
I’m a positive person, so I talk a lot about how to improve your credit score and achieve healthier credit. But the truth is, achieving healthy credit isn’t just about making changes to improve your score; it’s also about keeping an eye on some things to avoid the problems that could drag down your credit.
One of those problems is fraud that can occur when making online purchases. Fraud and identity theft are on the rise, especially because of the growing use of online purchases with credit cards. In this article, I want to share with you five fraud-busting tips to help you avoid becoming a victim when shopping online, which can severely damage your credit and can make life very difficult.
Fraud-prevention tip #1: Don’t give your credit card to anyone. Perhaps the hardest fraud to fight results from lending your credit card to someone to make a purchase and then that person decides to use your credit card to make other purchases that you don’t approve of. The best way to protect yourself is to not lend your credit card to anyone—ever! It can be difficult to say no to someone you love, but if that person shares the same feelings about you, he or she should understand and respect your choices.
Fraud-prevention tip #2: Always check your credit-card statements. Save the receipts from your online purchases, and at the end of every month, check your credit-card statements against those receipts. Make sure that everything lines up, and dig into any purchases that appear on your credit-card statement that you don’t have a receipt for.
Fraud-prevention tip #3: Use just one credit card for online purchases. Instead of using any credit card to make an online purchase, set aside just one credit card that you use only for online purchases. (Don’t even carry this credit card in your wallet.) That way, it’s easy to review the credit-card statement against your Internet purchases.
Fraud-prevention tip #4: Shop only at trusted online stores. The Internet gives us access to so many great websites, and anyone can set up a site; however, that’s also a problem because anyone can ask for a credit card and pretend to sell us something. So make sure you shop only at trusted online stores. Google the store first, and see what other people are saying about it before you make a purchase.
Fraud-prevention tip #5: Pull your credit reports regularly, and review them. It doesn’t take a lot of information for someone to impersonate you, and often that information can be gathered easily from an online application that you might fill out to join a website. So check your credit regularly, and keep an eye on your accounts to make sure that you have only the credit accounts you’re supposed to have!
I love our online world, but we need to be careful not to become so comfortable with making online purchases that we become complacent about it. By following the five tips described above, you can protect yourself and your credit from becoming casualties of online fraud.
Jeanne Kelly, ESME's Resource Guide for Work and Finance, is a Solo Mom who founded the Kelly Group, a company that provides credit counseling to individuals and organizations. She has appeared on the Today show and has also been quoted in media outlets such as CNN, Money, and the New York Times. Kelly is the author of the book The 90-Day Credit Challenge.
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