GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – With Black Friday less than two weeks away, marking the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season, protecting credit information should be the first thing on the minds of careful consumers.
Kenneth Bornert has been on the wrong side of fraud, and he doesn’t want anyone else to suffer through that dilemma. Last season, Kenneth dropped his wallet while walking to his car after some holiday shopping. It took thieves only 20 minutes to find the card, and spend nearly $600 at stores. Kenneth didn’t even have time to notify his bank.
“We got into the car, we left, and didn’t even realize we had left the wallet,” said Bornert. “That affect snowballed for a year now.”
Kenneth not only lost money meant for more Christmas gifts, but money meant for bills, car repairs, and insurance. And though his company did pay back the lost funds after a several week investigation, the ramifications extended well beyond a few hundred dollars lost.
Kenneth still pays for credit monitoring, remaining fearful that his information is still not safe. To make matters worse, the culprits are still at large even despite Kenneth working with police to obtain surveillance footage of the crooks by matching up the time and location of the charges with the time coding on the footage.
The fact that the two women still have not been caught is no surprise to experts who spoke to FOX 17. They say when it comes to preventing fraud altogether, there isn’t much that can be done. But they do recommend some preemptive steps to mitigate the potential affects.
For starters, talk to your bank or credit union about email or text message alerts that notify you each time your card is used.
“I would highly recommend those,” said Steven Vandelier, a loss mitigation manager with Lake Michigan Credit Union. “You would get an alert any time your card is used and you can set it for a certain dollar amount or certain transaction type. That will alert you so you’ll know immediately whether your card is being used fraudulently and you can shut it down much quicker.”
Vendelier also recommends investing in credit monitoring before fraud happens. New EMV technology – those square chips that recently started appearing on the faces of debit and credit cards – can also be a more dependable protection against fraud. The chips change up the coding on your card constantly, making it more difficult for fraudsters to copy or steal your sensitive information.
Vandelier says most merchants are now equipped with the technology to use EMV chips, but in some cases you have to ask.
When it comes to easing concerns about fraud, Vandelier says the little steps can make a big difference should the worst happen.
“The best thing that you can do is just be vigilant, monitor your statements, monitor your transactions sign up for those e-alerts and text alerts so you can shut down your activity right away and get your money back.”