Credit card theft attempts increasing; how to protect yourself from becoming a victim

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Forty-six percent of Americans have become victims of credit card fraud in the past five years, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

It’s becoming a growing problem in Central Pennsylvania, but you can take steps to avoid becoming a victim.

The Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union is seeing a sharp increase in credit card fraud attempts.

“It’s massive. It really is massive,” said Greg Smith, president and CEO of PSECU.

Smith says it’s so massive the company typically writes off more than $1 million a year in fraud losses.

“To some degree, defending against credit card and debit card fraud is a little bit like a chess game,” Smith said.

It’s a chess game staying ahead of fraudsters.

“If we have a member that lives in Harrisburg, and we start to see activity out of California, that something that raises a red flag for us,” Smith said.

PSECU says it prevented 14,000 fraudulent transactions totaling more than $1 million so far from January 1 to May 31, but that effort to combat fraud could impact legitimate transactions. 108 transactions totaling around $40,000 were blocked during the same time frame.

“Sometimes the fraud strategies that are put in place temporarily block some transactions at given locations based on what we’re seeing,” said Barb Bowker, PSECU vice president of marketing and membership development.

Make sure you have more than one credit card in case that happens if you’re traveling this summer.

“Through their mobile phone, through our app on their mobile phone, or through the online application, they alert us to the fact that they’re going to be traveling,” Smith said.

Stay alert for transactions on your credit card you didn’t make.

“Being vigilant, being aware of what’s going on in your account through alerts, through monitoring the activity on your account,” Smith said. That’s the best defense of all.”

PSECU has several blog posts about keeping your financial information safe. Click here for three ways to avoid ATM skimming, and click here for learning the social media habits that put you at risk.

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