Keeping Your Cards Safe from Fraud

Keeping Your Cards Safe from Fraud

As credit card rewards get more popular, the volume of credit card transactions is rising sharply, along with opportunities for fraud. According to the Nilson Report, 131 billion credit card transactions were processed in the U.S. in 2021.

Luckily, rewards aren’t the only appeal. Unlike debit cards, most credit cards offer cardholder protection against fraud loss.

But to take advantage of that protection, either the cardholder or their bank has to catch the errant transaction. They sometimes follow a pattern: A small purchase at a gas station as a test, followed by much larger purchases, or a “card not present” purchase for a large amount in a far-away state or country. No matter what form it takes, banks and cardholders both have strong incentives to ward off fraud.

Fortunately, the banking industry continues to invest billions of dollars in better technology and tools to keep cardholders, accounts and data safe and secure.

When you’re considering credit cards, you want an issuer that stays abreast of the latest card features and transaction systems to prevent fraud.

  • Is the card itself designed for security? Cards with EMV chips are more secure than magnetic stripes, and contactless cards and apps are even safer. Card numbers printed on the back of a card rather than embossed or printed on the front reduce exposure of card details.

  • Is “customer service” a machine or a human? When you do reach a person, are they employed by the card issuer? (At Pinnacle, we run our own credit card program and service every card from a central location in Franklin, TN. The client service number dials direct to a Pinnacle associate, 24/7, and we monitor the system for unusual activity and place calls to confirm activity.)

  • Does the issuer use the latest authentication for card-not-present purchases? For example, programs like Mastercard® Identity Check reduces fraud by using artificial intelligence and machine learning to authenticate transactions.

  • Is there a reliable and user-friendly mobile app with optional alerts and controls? Choices may include: receiving alerts by email or text, for all transactions or just those over a specified amount, and blocking international transactions or purchases from a merchant type or specific channel, such as online, at an ATM or via digital wallet.

Here’s what you can do to help keep your cards fraud-free:

  • Download the mobile app and turn on account alerts. (They only work if you opt in.) While you’re logged in, sign up for paperless statements, which you can download or print if needed. eStatements reduce the risk of your information landing in the wrong hands. To find Pinnacle's mobile app for credit cards, search "Pinnacle Bank Card" in the app store.

  • Reduce risk of misplacing your card by storing it in a digital wallet on your mobile device. Cutting down on repeatedly taking your card in and out of your bag or wallet lowers the risk you’ll drop it or forget to put it back. And contactless payment methods have the lowest fraud loss rate of all payment methods.

  • Set strong passwords and use biometric security for apps that contain account and personal identifying information. These security tools are available to you, but they only work if you use them. Passwords are most secure when they are unique to each app or platform.

  • Don’t fret about signatures. Signature matching is no longer a valuable card security tool, comparatively speaking. Many card transactions no longer require a signature, and those that do often employ electronic capture using a stylus or finger. Signature panels on cards are becoming a relic from the days when merchants still recorded card numbers on carbon paper.

  • Never email an account number. Email is not private or encrypted. Unless your banker sends a link to enable you to read or send an encrypted message—and has told you by phone or in person to expect it—don’t send sensitive information in a message.

  • Speak your account number only in private; don’t make purchases on a public or shared wi-fi network. Additionally, limit the number of companies or merchants that store your credit card number for future transactions. If a website offers the “convenience” to store your card number, saying “no” means fewer opportunities for compromise. Don’t use auto-fill options for credit card data on computers and devices.

  • Protect your social security number (SSN). You'll never need to give out your social security number for everyday purchases. Credit issuers that value the security of your personal data will have non-paper options like a secure website or a keypad for private, electronic capture. Any paper copies used for reference should be given back to you or shredded in front of you.

  • If a card is sent to you by mail, keep track of the promised timeframe and follow up immediately if you don’t receive it. The industry has seen an uptick in thieves intercepting plastic cards and in fraudulent card activation.

  • Only shop websites showing “https:” before the URL, sometimes replaced by a little padlock icon. The padlock indicates it’s secured (which is what the 's' stands for). It means the information you're sharing is encrypted.

  • Watch out for phishing. Phishing emails or texts can look like they are legitimate, and they may appear to come from businesses you’re familiar with. They’re designed to trick you into revealing personal information like passwords and account information. This short video from our chief information security officer explains how you can avoid taking the bait.

  • Log off when you're finished. And if you’re using a shared computer, make sure you say “no” if prompted to save your username or password.



All credit cards are subject to credit approval. Ask for details.

Mastercard is a registered trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

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