There is always a chance of credit card fraud, even if your data is well protected. Here are 4 things to do immediately if that unlikely event occurs.
It is an unfortunate fact of life. Even if you keep your credit card information very carefully, you could still be the victim of a fraudulent transaction.
Don’t take it personally. In 2016, electronic payment company ACI Worldwide estimated that 36 percent of credit, debit and prepaid card users in Singapore had experienced at least one unauthorized activity on their cards in the past five years.
Singapore has the third highest rate of credit card fraud in Asia Pacific; as more and more merchants move to e-payments, those numbers are likely to increase (at least in absolute terms).
The good news is that you are well protected. Guidelines from the Association of Banks in Singapore state that provided you have not acted fraudulently or with ‘gross negligence’, your maximum liability for unauthorized transactions is limited to $100.
This is on the condition that you notify the bank as soon as ‘reasonably possible’ after becoming aware that your card has been compromised. “Reasonably” isn’t defined, but I think it’s safe to say you want to do it sooner rather than later.
So if you see a transaction you don’t recognize on your account, follow what to do.
What to do if your credit card information has been hacked?
1. Call the bank immediately
As mentioned, the first thing you want to do when you notice a fraudulent transaction is to call the bank and block the card.
This is the hotline you can call, depending on the bank. All these numbers are manned 24/7; time is of the essence here, so don’t wait too long.
- American Express: 1800 732 2244
- Bank of China: 6331 7128
- Citi bank: 1800 225 5225
- CIMB: 6333 6666
- DBS/POB: 1800 339 6963
- Dinners: 6416 0900
- HSBC: 1800 4722 669
- ICBC: 6369 5588
- Maybank: 1800 629 2265
- OCBC: 1800 363 3333
- Standard chartered: 1800 747 7000
- UOB: 1800 222 2121
The customer service representative should immediately block your card and arrange for a replacement to be sent to your registered mailing address. This generally happens quite quickly – usually two to three business days.
2. Check the card overview for other unexpected charges
Even if blocking your card means that no more transactions (authorized or not) can take place, you still want to read the upcoming bank statement carefully, or better yet, check it directly online.
That’s because the fraudulent transactions may have started long before you were caught. However, keep in mind that most banks require cardholders to file a dispute within 14 days of the card statement date.
If you notice something suspicious a few months ago, you may not have a story left. That should be reason enough to check your statement regularly!
3. Update GIRO arrangements for new cards
If you have a GIRO scheme that currently serves your existing card, ask the bank whether you need to switch to the new card.
Some banks can transfer your GIRO scheme automatically; others may require you to submit a new GIRO application.
4. Update recurring billing arrangements
If your credit card is currently being used for a recurring billing arrangement (e.g. Netflix, Spotify subscription), you will need to update your account with the details of the replacement card. For obvious reasons, the new card will have a different card number and CVV.
This is all the more important if your card is used to pay for an insurance policy as the last thing you want is for it to expire due to non-payment.
How can I protect myself?
Here are three simple tips to help you more easily detect and reduce the chance of fraudulent transactions.
1. Set up transaction alerts
The easiest way to keep track of all activity on your debit or credit card is to subscribe to transaction notifications.
This is a free service offered by your bank that lets you know immediately if an unauthorized transaction has occurred (rather than seeing it until your statement arrives).
All banks should let you adjust your transaction reports via the ibanking portal. The process will vary slightly from bank to bank, but transaction alerts can be set as low as $0.01, essentially sending you an alert every time a transaction is made on your card.
2. Use PayPal whenever possible
If a website gives you the choice of paying via credit card or PayPal, it’s generally safer to choose the latter.
That’s because PayPal masks the credit card number from the merchant, so even if the merchant’s database is compromised, the hackers will only know that you used PayPal to pay, and nothing more.
3. Store your card details with trusted merchants
In this day and age, it’s probably inevitable that you’ll have to store your credit card information online. Imagine the hassle of entering your 16-digit card number every time you want to order food or hail a taxi.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be judicious about it. For example, it makes much more sense to store your data with a merchant that you use very regularly (e.g. Grab), rather than one that you may only use once. Remember, the more websites or apps that store your credit card information, the more potential vectors will be compromised.
Credit card fraud is an unpleasant experience, but don’t panic if it does happen. Provided you acted in good faith, your liability is limited, and in my personal experience I have never had to pay the $100 fee for a fraudulent transaction on my account.
I look forward to the day when disposable credit card numbers become more widespread (generated for a single transaction, and therefore useless if stolen), but until then some common sense and vigilance will go a long way.
This article was first published in SingSaver.com.sg.