Protecting your credit and debit card

Identity theft has become a serious problem for the financial services industry. According to a study by internet security firm Symantec, the number of phishing attacks on banks in India shot up three times to 120 attacks in January 2008, from only 20 attacks in October 2007. It ranked Mumbai first in the country in terms of phishing sites, followed by New Delhi.
In fact, there are many instances now when people have got into hardships and incurred losses because of lack of financial awareness. Here’s an insight into financial details that you should handle with care, and immediate steps you should take if you face an identity crisis.

Beware of crooks:

To cite an example, if you are holding a credit card and have applied for a new one, it is never safe to disclose details of the existing credit card or even provide a copy of both sides of the existing card as the data may be misused and could result in a loss. The card carries a three-digit or four-digit security code or card verification value (CVV) which could be misused.

Similarly, you should be extra cautious if you receive a call, fax or an e-mail or someone visiting in person, asking for details such as date of birth, mother’s maiden name, PIN and others because such information could be misused by crooks. On various financial platforms, mother’s maiden name is used as a security password. Common numbers and alphabets such as mother’s maiden name and date of birth should be completely avoided as passwords.

Extra caution should be used while sharing details such as bank account number and date of birth and they should be done only on a secure platform. It can lead to impersonation, reputation risk and black mail.

Also, you should avoid responding to any query by an unknown caller who may impersonate as an agency representative doing a survey or compiling information. It is important that the passwords, giving access to use of credit cards and other financial instruments, be carefully drafted and retained only mentally.

And not without reason, because there have been cases where individuals have lost out on their entire savings due to such frauds. Besides the financial loss, what pains the most is the mental harassment you have to undergo running pillar to post to resolve problems with the credit card institution, banks and police authorities,

In case of misuse of a financial product, the institution which issued the product should be immediately intimated and services of that product temporarily discontinued. In case your credit card details have been stolen and it is linked to a bank account, then standing instructions should be given to banks to immediately stop direct debits (towards payment against card bills).

Since financial details are stolen mainly from personal computers, internet and couriers, it’s important for customers to protect their PCs. One should avoid the temptation of clicking on unknown sites and ensure that every courier from their bank has reached them untampered.

Further, bankers recommend that all links to various accounts of banks and investments should be properly reviewed when closing an account. Do not get fascinated by exciting opportunities to take more credit cards. According to him, there is a general perception that the more credit cards you have, the more credit you can avail of. On the contrary, loss or misuse of credit cards could lead to a lot of mental torture and pain.

The ATM cards also need to be carefully retained as some people have a habit to scribble the PIN on the paper strip behind the card. Scandals prevail all the time and smart cartels get access to a lot of confidential information to capture your savings of a life time.