How to avoid credit card fraud

On average Kiwis collectively put around $35 billion of transactions through their credit cards each year. Chances are some of those transactions are fraudulent. How can you avoid being a victim?

While there’s no foolproof way to guarantee that you will never be a victim of credit card fraud, there are ways to reduce your risk. These include:

  • Don’t throw personal documents into the bin. If you are disposing of any documents that include personal details, make sure you shred or otherwise destroy them (soaking in water, for example) before tossing them into the bin.  Buying a home shredder can be a great investment!
  • Keep you mail secure as well. Buying a lock for your letter box (or using a post office box) can also be a good idea. And if you’re going to be away, make sure you either put a hold on your mail or have someone collect it for you regularly.
  • Read your own mail! How often do you get a credit card statement and toss it onto a “to be read later/never” pile? Get into the habit of opening all your financial statements and checking them carefully for any sign of suspicious activity. That goes for bank and Kiwisaver accounts as well.
  • Check your credit history regularly. Try checkyourcredit.co.nz or mycreditfile.co.nz to obtain a free copy of your credit history. This will alert you to any attempts to apply for credit in your name.
  • Be cautious when buying online. We all love shopping online – but be cautious about who you share your credit card details with. Better yet, use a secure payment system such as Paypal.
  • Keep the ATM keypad covered when entering your PIN, and be aware of who is around you.
  • Always know where your card is. New NFC technology (e.g. tap and go) makes petty theft very easy if someone comes across your card. So keep it secure at all times and if you lose it, report it straight away.
  • Stay protected. Make sure you keep the virus and security software on your computers and mobile devices updated. And it goes without saying to avoid clicking on links in scam emails.
  • Never give credit card details over the phone. If you need to make a payment or want to donate to a charity, do it online via a secure payment method.

If you think that you may have been scammed, let your financial institution know ASAP and report it to both the police and Consumer Affairs.

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