How To Protect Your Privacy And Avoid Financial Fraud With Prepaid

In the first post in our “Privacy” blog post series, we showed you why using a prepaid card is the safest and smartest way to make purchases, whether you are shopping online or in person. With its zero-liability protection, instant reporting, real-time monitoring, and lack of connection to credit/bank accounts, using a prepaid card decreases the chances of fraud, theft, and loss for consumers.

“I don’t see a risk for consumers who want to use prepaid debit cards as long as you follow normal security procedures. It’s a great tool for the honest consumer,” said Joe Petro, a managing director at Promontory Financial Group and formerly a senior member of Citigroup’s security and investigations operations. “”The nefarious use of it is something that I’m not sure affects the daily activity of a consumer. That’s not what the thieves are after.”

However, that doesn’t mean you should willingly take on risks; you still have to be intelligent, vigilant, and wary about privacy and security issues. As VISA tell its customers, it has “a layered approach to security that helps protect [prepaid] payment cardholders,” but “cardholders also need to be wary of fraud” and protect their card information.

Although the amount of fraud in the prepaid space is low, the overwhelming success and rise of prepaid as a payment format means more criminals are looking to it as a source of income.

If you want to carry a prepaid card loaded with money, here are several things you can do to protect your privacy, avoid fraud, and be safe:

Never give anyone your PIN. Don’t write it down or have the number in your wallet, and definitely don’t write it on the back of your card! When you are entering the number at an automated teller machine (ATM) or at a point-of-sale (POS) terminal, make sure to position yourself so others can’t see it or take a photo. If a machine looks like it’s been tampered with, don’t use it and contact the vendor immediately.

“I think consumers are very secure if they keep their PINs secure and keep the cards secure,” said Avivah Litan, a security analyst at Gartner, an American research and advisory firm.

Provide personal information only when you are sure you know who you are dealing with, and only give your card information to websites that you trust and know are legitimate. Be wary of phone calls from criminals pretending to be your card company and asking for your private information. If something feels off, hang up the phone and look up the official number and call them back.

Treat your cards like cash and never leave them lying around or unattended.

Watch out for “phishing” attacks. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Phishing is one of the most common scams around.

Check your card transaction history regularly. Any time you notice any unauthorized or suspicious transactions you should immediately contact your financial institution. Get instant updates on your account activity by using online banking or a mobile app.

If your card is lost, stolen, or “eaten” by an ATM, contact your financial institution immediately. Make sure to write down the card number, CVV code on the back, and customer service number and keep this information in a safe place in case this happens.

Don’t load your card with more money than you could afford to lose. You might get the money back eventually, but don’t put yourself in a bad situation if you can avoid it.

If you think you are at risk of identity theft or fraud, please check out the following links:

OnGuardOnline.gov – Tips from U.S. federal government to help you protect your personal information.

FTC.gov – Tips from the Federal Trade Commission to help you avoid identity theft and learn what to do if your identity is stolen.

FDIC.gov – Information from the FDIC about how to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud.

RCMP.gc.ca – Royal Canadian Mounted Police site for Identity Theft and Identity Fraud. Click here for assistance if you are already a victim.

Protect your privacy and contact us today to find out how you can get a customized virtual MasterCard of Visa prepaid card.

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