Five Tips to Avoid Credit Card Fraud

Consumers are seeing new technology at the checkout counter.  One element is designed to reduce credit card fraud, and the other, to help consumers keep track of their purchases without requiring a printed receipt.

“Paperless receipts” were introduced to consumers over a number of years, primarily at bank ATMs and for financial and utility statements; however, restaurants and local stories are coming on board.  Don’t be surprised if you are offered the option of going paperless this holiday season, warns the Connecticut Better Business Bureau.

Consumers opt for paperless receipts to be emailed to them because of the convenience, their ability to store all of their receipts a smart device or computer, and a choice that allows them to help reduce waste.

However, many consumers prefer to have a hard copy of their receipts for a variety of reasons, including ease of filing and for reconciling financial statements.

There is a cost for accepting an emailed receipt instead of a printed one, not the least of which, is having to provide an email address without knowing whether that information will be shared and with whom.  

Consumers faced with the choice of paper or email will have to decide whether they are comfortable giving out that information, and whether they’d prefer to have an overflowing wallet or overflowing inbox.

The new generation of anti-fraud credit cards 

Another, crucial technological advance is appearing in consumers’ wallets and greeting them at the checkout counter: “smart” credit cards and merchants’ card readers.  Their proper name is an “EMV card”.

They contain a microprocessor chip that permits consumers to use their cards globally help reduce card fraud and identity theft, and make in-store transactions more secure. The chip generates a unique, one-time code that is needed for each transaction to be approved.  If a thief gets hold of your card, it will only allow one transaction.

Merchants both large and small have an incentive to update their point of sale terminals to accept the new EMV cards by October 1st, when  liability and losses due to fraudulent transactions will shift from the card issuer to the merchant.

Unfortunately, the EMV technology does not yet stop fraudulent use of a smart card in No Card Present (NCP) commerce, such as telephone and internet purchases.

Many cards still sport a magnetic stripe on the back containing information that can be copied.  That stripe is a legacy that enables consumers to use their cards in stores and countries that do not yet have EMV technology.  Once those stripes are phased out as they have been in other countries, it will make things considerably more difficult for credit card thieves.


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Tips for the use of EMV cards and paperless receipts:

Limit what you reveal – If you sign up for paperless receipts, you have to provide an email address.  Unless you read the privacy policy, you won’t know if your information will be used for marketing, shared with third parties or how it will be shared.  You might want to open a second email account dedicated to non-personal emails such as these.

Check your email for the receipt in the store – Make sure you received the receipt and that it is accurate.

Ask about receiving an EMV card – Financial institutions continue to replace existing credit and debit cards with the smart EMV cards.  If you have not yet received one, contact your financial institution.

Free wireless can come at a price – Any public Wi-Fi connection that does not require a password is vulnerable to hacking.  Consider holding off conducting business transactions and entering account passwords until you are back at home.

Carefully review financial statements – This is vital all year long, but more especially when you use your cards a lot.  The moment you spot an error or unauthorized charge, call your financial institution immediately.

You will find additional consumer tips at bbb.org.


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Email news tips to Greenwich Free Press editor Leslie.Yager@GreenwichFreePress.com
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