It is tempting to think of credit card fraud as something ultra-sophisticated hackers perpetrate by using complex tech few can guard against it. The truth is that most fraud is achieved through fairly simple means. This suggests that a lot of the victims could have done more to protect themselves from it—and all without having to mire themselves in tech tactics that go far above their heads.

Here we go over some of the things people can do to shield themselves from credit card fraud crooks. Most of them are surprisingly simple, as well as practical.

  • Always Mind Your Card

This seems obvious enough, but you would be surprised how many fail to follow it. Always know where your credit card is and always be within arm’s reach of it. That means more than checking your wallet every now and then to make sure it has not fallen out yet. It also includes something as simple as bringing your credit card to the restaurant counter yourself instead of having the waiter carry it there.

When you are at an establishment’s counter with your card, pay attention to what is being done with it too. Generally speaking, it should be swiped with only one card reader. If the employee tries to use more than one, start asking questions. Swiping cards with a second, information-capturing reader is a classic credit card fraud scheme.

  • Be Smart About Sensitive Data

It does not seem to matter how often banks or credit card issuers say not to do it: people still insist on keeping online banking/account PINs and passwords in files in their computers or on post-its. The excuse seems to be that they forget them otherwise, and that the alternative would be to use a PIN/password they would not forget but which can be guessed easily by others.

So what should you do if this is the case? Be smart about it. If you have to keep them in a digital file, for instance, try to password-protect that file or give it a completely different name. You should also try to bury the PIN/password data intelligently within it. For instance, instead of simply writing down the PIN 12345, you could create a short story in the file that uses the numbers in sequence. “One man met two boys herding three goats…”

Another method would be to write it down as though it were a shopping list:

  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 2 packs of dog food
  • 3 cuts of beef

And so on.

  • Be Wary of Credit Card Fraud Online

One of the most common ways to perpetrate credit card fraud is to solicit people’s credit card information and other personal data on the Web. Far too many people fall for this trick because so many websites ask for that sort of data up-front. How are you supposed to know if it is legitimate or not?

The answer is to do heavy background checks on the website or establishment in question. Check that they are verified as a legitimate business and determine whether or not they really have a point in asking for the information they are requesting from you. Even after you have determined that they are legitimate and the request is valid, check the website you are on to ensure that it is the right one and not a phishing site. The key to practical credit card fraud protection is to be suspicious of the Web when making any form of payment.