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Don’t let fear of card fraud spoil your summer

By MARTY GIBSON

Farmers National Bank

Summer is nearly here. It is a time for fun in the sun, vacations and relaxation. It is also a time to be on the alert for credit and debit card fraud.

Not to be a downer, but the thought of card fraud can ruin one’s best summer plans. According to a report earlier this year by the Federal Trade Commission, fraud was a major consumer complaint and concern. In 2017, consumers reported losing $905 million to fraud, up $63 million from 2016.

Card fraud has unfortunately impacted local citizens and local banks.

This type of information can be scary and frustrating, but your local banks and their employees are looking out for you. And the benefits of owning a credit or debit card still outweigh the risks. Here is some information you need to know that can help you prevent card fraud  — or assist if you are an unfortunate victim of fraud:

• Do not give out your card number over the phone unless you initiated the transaction and you know the company is reputable.

• When contacting a company to make a payment, be sure you are calling the actual company number. Scammers can make fake phone numbers on certain website searches, then steal your information when you call.

• Whether in town or while traveling on vacation this summer, look out for skimmers on ATMs or at gas pumps. These devices can steal your information. They are placed where you would insert your card, so always inspect that area and give it a good tug to make sure a skimming device is not present. If you find one, let the merchant know.

• Always be careful with online purchases, making sure you are on a secure website (for example, ensure it starts with https:// or includes a lock symbol on your browser bar).

• Do not enter personal information, like your card number, on a public computer or public WiFi connection. Also, always keep your anti-virus software up to date.

• If your local bank recognizes your card has experienced fraudulent charges, it may automatically block your card from use and re-issue you a new one. Even if the card is expected to have been compromised, and not yet had a fraudulent charge, your bank may re-issue you a new card to be safe.

• Most importantly, ask your bank about tools and services it may have to help better protect your information. Apple/Google Pay, Card Text Alerts and Fraud Alerts are just a few services available to help prevent fraud.

How to detect card fraud

• Check your transactions frequently. If you receive bank statements in the mail, check those closely. Online and Mobile Banking are great ways to check your accounts daily. If you see something you do not recognize or didn’t purchase, contact your bank immediately. Some banks, including Farmers National Bank, have tools to block your card from any more transactions, even after hours, if you suspect fraud.

If you are a card fraud victim

• Most cards have a zero liability policy for unauthorized charges, meaning if you have card fraud on your account, you can file a dispute with the opportunity to have your fraudulent charges refunded.

• Your local banker and authorities are here to assist. Some may feel embarrassed to be a victim of such a crime, but there are hundreds of thousands of card holders who experience this, so you are not alone. Reach out to a trusted professional for help.

Take these steps and the confidence that your local bank is looking out for you, and you can get back to a relaxing, fun summer season.

Marty Gibson is president of Farmers National Bank.