We have seen a lot of credit card fraud over the past few months. While I don’t know who to blame, what I’ve gathered from the News reports is that since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, hackers have been working overtime to target the USA. They may be Russian hackers, or professionals being paid by Russians, but frankly, that doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that in my personal life, I’ve now seen charges on our credit cards that were not made by Joan or myself. Sometimes it’s a small charge, where the crooks are trying to see if they can slip one by the goalie. Because it’s so minimal, no one is really looking too hard at a charge of $9.99. Other times these idiots will buy (or attempt to buy) a big-ticket item that is more obvious to catch.
Some folks claim that they don’t use the internet and are therefore more protected. I argue that you are not more protected because you do not use the internet. Your information is all over the internet, whether you choose to use it or not. Your cell phone bill, bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage information, etc.… All that stuff is stored online somewhere, and just because you do not use it doesn’t necessarily make you more insulated from cyber criminals.
Some simple, yet effective steps to help you may be:
- Set alerts on your credit card and bank accounts for charges over a more modest limit…like $250 – $500. These alerts work. I love when I use an Amex card and the notice appears on my apple watch before I’ve even had a chance to sign off on the charge.
- Freeze your credit with the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Transunion and Experian.
- Carefully review all your statements. Banks, mortgage, home equity lines of credit, credit cards, crypto accounts, investment accounts… everything.
- Carry fewer cards. Many of us have way more credit cards than we’ll ever use.
- Do not use the same password for everything and change those passwords frequently.
- Consider the use of a password storage app. This is way more secure than your little black book or post-it-note under your desk blotter.
- Make sure that your computer has up to date anti-virus and security protection.