There's always a chance of credit card fraud happening, even if your details are highly protected. Here are 4 things you must do immediately should that unlikely event happen.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life. Even if you guard your credit card details with the utmost of care, you may still end up the victim of a fraudulent transaction.
Don’t take it personally. Back in 2016, electronic payments firm ACI Worldwide estimated that 36% of credit, debit and prepaid card users in Singapore had suffered at least one unauthorised activity on their cards in the past five years. Singapore has the third-highest rate of credit card fraud in Asia Pacific; as more and more merchants turn to e-payments, those numbers are likely to rise (at least in absolute terms).
The good news is that you’re well-protected. Guidelines issued by the Association of Banks in Singapore state that provided you’ve not acted fraudulently or with ‘gross negligence’, your maximum liability for unauthorised transactions is capped at $100.
|Prior to notification of credit card loss to card issuers, the maximum liability for cardholders due to unauthorised charges is $100 unless the cardholder has acted fraudulently, or has been grossly negligent, or has failed to inform the card issuers as soon as reasonably practicable after becoming aware that his or her card has been lost or stolen. Card issuers will investigate and may consider waiving at their discretion the $100 liability for unauthorised charges on a case by case basis. Interest charges and late fees will not be levied during the period when investigations are being carried out.
- ABS Code of Practices for Banks- Credit Cards, 5 a)
This is provided you inform the bank as soon as ‘reasonably practicable’ after becoming aware your card has been compromised. ‘Reasonably’ is not defined, but I think it’s safe to say you’ll want to do it sooner rather than later.
So if you see a transaction you don’t recognise on your account, here’s what to do.
What to do if your credit card details are compromised
#1 Call up the bank immediately
As mentioned, the first thing you’ll want to do upon noticing a fraudulent transaction is to call the bank and block the card.
Here’s the hotline to call, depending on the bank. All these numbers will be manned 24/7; time is of the essence here, so don’t delay.
- American Express: 1800 732 2244
- Bank of China: 6331 7128
- Citibank: 1800 225 5225
- CIMB: 6333 6666
- DBS/POSB: 1800 339 6963
- Diners Club: 6416 0900
- HSBC: 1800 4722 669
- ICBC: 6369 5588
- Maybank: 1800 629 2265
- OCBC: 1800 363 3333
- Standard Chartered: 1800 747 7000
- UOB: 1800 222 2121
The customer service agent should immediately block your card, and arrange for a replacement to be sent to your registered mailing address. This is generally done rather quickly – usually two to three business days.
#2 Monitor card statement for other unexpected charges
Even though the blocking of your card means that no further transactions (unauthorised or otherwise) can take place, you’ll still want to read carefully through the upcoming bank statement, or better yet, check it immediately online.
That’s because the fraudulent transactions may have started well before the one you caught. Keep in mind though, most banks require cardmembers to submit a dispute within 14 days from the card statement date. If you spot something suspicious from a few months ago, you may no longer have recourse. That should be reason enough to check your statement regularly!
#3 Update GIRO arrangements for new cards
If you have a GIRO arrangement that’s currently servicing your existing card, check with the bank whether you’ll need to switch it over to the new card. Some banks may automatically transfer your GIRO arrangement; others may require you to submit a fresh GIRO application.
#4 Update recurring billing arrangements
If your credit card is currently being used for a recurring billing arrangement (e.g Netflix, Spotify subscription), be sure to update your account with the replacement card’s details. For obvious reasons, the new card will have a different card number and CVV.
This is even more crucial if your card is being used to pay for an insurance policy, as the last thing you want is it lapsing due to non-payment.
How can I protect myself?
Here’s three simple tips that help you spot fraudulent transactions more easily, and reduce its likelihood.
#1 Set transaction alerts
The simplest way to keep tabs on all the activity taking place on your debit or credit card is to subscribe to transaction alerts. This is a free service offered by your bank which lets you know immediately if an unauthorised transaction has taken place (as opposed to only spotting it when your statement comes around).
All banks should let you customise your transaction alerts via the ibanking portal. The process will be slightly different from bank to bank, but transaction alerts can be set as low as $0.01, which basically sends you an alert every time a transaction is made on your card.
#2 Use PayPal where possible
If a website gives you the choice of paying via credit card or PayPal, it’s generally safer to opt for the latter. That’s because PayPal masks the credit card number from the merchant, so even if the merchant’s database is compromised, the hackers will only know you used PayPal to pay, and nothing more.
#3: Store your card details with trusted merchants
In this day and age, it’s probably inevitable that you’ll need to store your credit card details online. Imagine the hassle of entering your 16-digit card number every time you wanted to order food, or hail a cab.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be judicious about it. For example, it makes much more sense to store your details with a merchant you use very regularly (e.g Grab), as opposed to one that you may just use once-off. Remember, the more websites or apps your credit card details are saved on, the more potential vectors to be compromised.
Credit card fraud is an unpleasant experience, but there’s no need to panic if it happens. Provided you’ve acted in good faith, your liability is capped, and in my personal experience, I have never had to pay even the $100 amount for any fraudulent transaction on my account.
I do look forward to the day when disposable credit card numbers become more widespread (generated for a single transaction, and therefore useless if stolen), but until then, some common sense and vigilance will go a long way.
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