This morning was like every other, or so it seemed. I woke up, made a pot of coffee and settled onto the couch with my laptop to do something I do every morning, check my email. This morning the email I received was a bit different than my normal though. One of the subject lines read: Fraud Protection Alert. I paused for a second as I read the email, was I really the victim of credit card fraud? Yes. Indeed I was.
The person that had stolen my credit card number had been busy all morning on an online video game site charging small increments of money (less than $10 each) numerous times to see if the card was working properly. My credit card companies fraud department sent me a fraud alert email when they decided that the charges didn’t seem like my normal activity. A quick phone call to my credit card company later, and it was confirmed that someone was indeed trying to steal my hard earned credit.
How could this possibly happened to me? I find myself overly cautious when I buy things online and I even have various “strong” passwords that I use for every online account that I own, I mean even I, the creator, can barely remember them all! I was told that I would not be responsible for any of the charges (awesome!) and that I would be sent a new card immediately. But, I still can’t help feeling used and abused and somewhat, dare I say it, stupid, because I am always preaching to people about being safe online, I mean I just posted an article yesterday about phishing scams.
So, what can you do to (try to) avoid being the victim of online theft?
1. Make sure your web browsers and operating system software are always up-to-date! Security flaws are often found and reported, but can only be fixed on an individual level if you upgrade your software every time it is recommended. (This is probably why my issue occurred, pure laziness. I will really have to restart my computer, oh NO!)
2. Every time you purchase something online, make sure that the connection is secure. Check the top right of your web browser in Safari, or to the right of the address bar if you are using Internet Explorer, and verify that there is a lock symbol. Also, make sure that the web address is a secure one by checking to be sure that there is an S after http. https://www.amazon.com/checkout. This will encrypt any personal information that you enter on that page.
3. Only buy from authorized/legitimate looking online retailers. Because, let’s face it, if it looks like a (fake) duck, walks like a (fake) duck, and quacks like a (fake) duck, then it is probably a (FAKE) duck. Check to see if the retailer has the VeriSign Secured Seal prominently displayed. Retailers are often proud that their site is secure, and aren’t afraid to let you know.
Just remember, if it can happen to me, it can surely happen to you. Be sure to monitor your own accounts and call your card companies about any unusual charges that you don’t remember doing. Unfortunately, the $300 charge that posted to your account at exactly 3am on Saturday night when you were drunk and decided that it was a good idea to buy the entire bar a round of shots does NOT count as unusual activity. Sorry…
Has your credit card/bank information ever been stolen or do you know more ways to protect yourself online that I missed? Share your comments below!