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If there’s one thing that gets me really riled up, it’s hackers and scammers. I loathe how they take advantage of people, especially the elderly, which was always something I cautioned my dad about when he was alive. And despite my own savviness, I recently got scammed when I was invited to be on a podcast. You can read that story here.
That incident reminded me of another situation, which I think is worth sharing to warn others about. This happened a couple of years ago, but I received an email alert from my bank stating that I had a charge of close to $300 for a cable company in New York. First of all, I don’t charge anything to my ATM/debit card because those purchases are not protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which is why I’m always preaching to use a credit card, especially one that earn you miles/points, as long as you can pay it off in full each month.
Secondly, I rarely use cash anymore except for tips and occasionally at the farmer’s market but now, many farmer’s market stalls accept Venmo or credit cards. I also took out a few hundred dollars when the pandemic hit and I’m still making my way through it.
The reason I caught the fraudulent charge so quickly and stopped the perpetrators from doing serious damage is because I get an email any time a charge is made to any of my credit and bank cards. TIP: Always set up notifications on your cards so that you can be alerted as soon as a charge is made.
The good news is that it looks like they only got my ATM card by either guessing the 16-digit code or using an RFID reader when I passed by someone. My bank will send me a new ATM card and not change my bank account numbers, which is a HUGE hassle and even more so during a pandemic.
Moral of the story: Protect your purchases and cards by using a credit card not an ATM card, setting up notifications for purchases and using RFID blocking sleeves, which I did not have on my bank card but I will now. They’re inexpensive and can save you a world of hassle. You can buy them here on Amazon.
UPDATE: Reader Sandra wrote in with a further bit of advice. She says, ‘Many wallets come with RFID protection in them so you wouldn’t need an extra sleeve. I have a wallet for my purse which has this and is also large enough for a passport (sigh). I use the paper sleeves when I only want to have one card with me.” Great tip, Sandra! An RFID blocking wallet makes sense. Check out these options for women and these ones for men. There are a lot of options but this is my wife’s pick and this is mine.
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