What to do if you become a victim of cyber-fraud

Dear Experian,

I made an online purchase from a site that now appears to be a fraud, and I’m worried that my credit card may be at risk. I did not receive the merchandise and cannot get a response from the retailer. What should I do?



Dear GHR,

You’re smart to be concerned. If your credit card number falls into the wrong hands, it could be misused by a criminal or even sold by a crime ring. The best way to protect yourself is to call your credit card company and explain the situation. Ask for a new account number, and be sure the old account number can no longer be used to make purchases. Also ask about your purchase protections. If you follow their dispute instructions, your credit card company should remove the charge for the merchandise you did not receive.

Even with your credit card switched to a new number, you’ll want to closely monitor your statements for signs of fraud. Call your credit card company as soon as an unfamiliar charge appears on your statement. If you wait too long to contest a charge, you may no longer be covered by your card’s purchase protections.

The next time you wish to make an online purchase, be sure the retailer is just as concerned with information security as you are. Check that the URL on the checkout page begins with “https” to designate a site that uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure encryption to protect your personal information. Never send personal information, such as your credit card number and address, through a webpage with “http” at the beginning of the URL. Always look for the “s” on the end.

You should also regularly check your computer system for spyware, malware and viruses — especially after exposure to a cyber security risk. If you’re not already using antivirus and antispyware software, install a comprehensive protection suite immediately. If you already have antivirus and antispyware installed, initiate a check of your entire system after ensuring your software is up to date.

Cyber security is everyone’s concern, and you need to maintain responsibility for your own computer and network in order to protect your personal information and equipment and protect those in your online address book This includes inspecting a site carefully before sharing your personal information with it or conducting a transaction.

Thanks for asking.

- The “Ask Experian” team

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