It’s a boon and a detriment to our modern society that things change in an instant. With a lot of financial matters, including the volatile markets of quick-changing stocks and see-sawing mortgage rates, it’s imperative to strike while the iron is hot. Though with the financial market’s breakneck pace, it’s ever so much more important to be able to take advantage of a deal when it becomes available, that house that you want may go off the market in under an hour, or that car you want to finance but don’t have quite the right score to qualify for your monthly price range.
This is where Boost Credit 101 comes in. You are able to get a boost to your credit in just a little over a month. Now let me give you a scenario. After we’ve given your credit a boost, you have been able to get approved for one of the top credit cards in the market, be it Capitol One Venture with amazing travel rewards or the Citi Simplicity with an 18 month zero percent option. These cards are sought after for a reason; they cost nothing and require great credit, so naturally, having them makes you a target for fraudsters.
Now that you’ve got your shining beacon of credit excellence, you must protect it. Credit cards are unique in that federally if your card information is stolen you are liable for only $50 in purchases, which is different from debit cards that require lengthy processes to get your money back and while you wait you have no funds. But since these excellent cards are such juicy targets, here are three ways to protect yourself against credit card fraud.
1. Look for skimmers – These are devices that a sneaky fraudster puts on point-of-sale devices where you swipe your cards. The key is to look at the machine carefully before you swipe your card. Look for any scuff, glue or tape marks, or loose bits around the PIN pad or place where you swipe your card. These are signs that a skimmer has been attached. Skimmers are designed to be stealthily hidden, so look before you swipe.
2. Banking in an online cafe — We all have our favorite spots to check our email and take care of business while imbibing in a mocha frappe or some other complex confection. But doing so at a place that has an open Wi-Fi network leaves you wide open to hackers looking to snag your passwords out of cyberspace and do any number of fraudulent things. If they have your usernames and passwords to your bank and/or credit card accounts, likely they have access to your account numbers, and that’s all they need to start spending away.
3. Responding to phishing messages — These can take the form of email or texts. Any correspondence with your financial institution will never, ever ask you for your account information via these communications. So if you get an unsolicited phone call, text, or email message asking for personal information or to click on a link, treat these with extreme caution. If you have any doubt, and there should be alarm klaxons going off like Red Alert flashing beacons in your head, contact your institution directly and ask if they are trying to contact you. Likely they will want to know and have teams that investigate these fraudsters.
You’ve worked hard, done your research, and you have these excellent lines of credit. Having them available to you and responsibly using them gives you a pristine credit report. So please protect yourself. These fraudsters are clever and would like nothing more than to take advantage of you.