Although new technology is constantly emerging to fight against credit card theft, hackers are also constantly crafting more elaborate schemes. For frequent business travelers, the chance of going somewhere and having your information stolen vastly increases, since you are constantly flying and moving through different networks.
That doesn't mean we can't prevent it from occurring by taking additional steps to ensure it's protected. Here are a few ways I protect my credit card information and stay safe from malicious attacks.
1. Enable two-step authentication.
Saving your credit card information on your digital device does make it easy and convenient to make purchases. But even if your password is complex, it shouldn't be the only line of defense between your personal information and the Dark Web.
To ensure that your information has the highest level of protection, enable two-step authentication. Instead of using just your password to log into an account, you'll have a time-sensitive code you'll need to enter to confirm that it's you.
2. Turn off auto-pay.
Auto-pay is a convenient and useful option, especially when you have multiple credit cards. However, it's wise to check your credit card statements each month. This way, if something is suspicious, you can catch it before things escalate.
In addition to turning off auto-pay, check credit card statements at least every two weeks. If I'm traveling more than usual, I don't want to allow a hacker access to my account for an entire month. I want to be able to jump on any suspicious activity I see, hopefully as soon as it occurs.
3. Set up transaction alerts.
Getting a notification every time you swipe your card can get annoying. But it's well worth it. Depending on how busy I am in a month determines how much I remember about what I actually spent on my credit card and where. Sometimes, when looking at my credit card statements, I draw a blank.
However, if I'm getting notifications about my purchases immediately after I make them, I can confirm that I'm the one who purchased an expensive meal in Dubai or that it wasn't me in Nice buying random items. It's helped me act on activity as soon as I'm notified.
4. Frequently monitor your credit scores.
Keeping an eye on your credit score and any new activity can help resolve problems that you didn't catch. Besides worrying about hackers attacking you directly, they also breach consumers' data from companies. By the end of the summer of last year, there were 864 data breaches and over 34 million records were compromised, according to Rippleshot. Thirty percent of the data stolen was credit card numbers.
Make sure that you have safeguards in place from all angles. You may also be able to get free credit reports and credit card monitoring from your credit card issuer.
5. Consider contactless payment.
Similar to Apple Pay and Google Pay, contactless payment is when you can tap your card in front of payment systems and, in seconds, your payment is processed. Besides the fact that it's so fast, I love contactless payment on my Chase cards because it's a lot easier than fiddling with your mobile wallet, it's travel-friendly, and most importantly, it's secure.
It's accommodated with a one-time security code so a hacker can't copy it and get your credit card information. Although chips have reduced this type of fraud, it still helps to know that you have a payment option that's both secure and fast.
6. Watch out for phony emails.
A few years ago, I almost fell prey to a phishing email. It was a "Delta" flight itinerary asking me to confirm my ticket. Besides the fact that everything in the email looked legitimate, it also had a route from JFK-SFO that I previously took.
If I'd been extremely preoccupied when I checked my email, assumed it was real, and entered my account information, I would be telling a different story.
Most of the time, hackers' targets are people who travel frequently or those who have frequent flyer accounts. If you ever have an email from a credit card company, an airline, or even a hotel that wasn't prompted by you, don't click any links in the email. Instead, go directly to their website and inquire there.
7. Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi.
Public Wi-Fi is a blessing, but it can also be a curse if you're not careful. Since hackers can easily access your information from an open network, use a VPN or invest in a plan with your mobile carrier, especially if you travel frequently.
Credit card fraud can happen to anyone. If you do become a victim, make sure to report it to your credit card provider immediately. Meanwhile, take every action you can to prevent that from occurring.