by Chino Leyco
Owning at least one credit card is becoming essential in today’s lifestyle as it allows consumers to enjoy perks and deals that come with their use and provides emergency tool when an unexpected expense comes along.
Credit cards, or plastics, are also helpful in financial management because it allows individuals to keep track of their expenses. However, some cardholders are still unaware on how to best manage and pay down their debts, resulting in serious default on their cards.
“Maintain your credit card in good standing by paying the total outstanding balance – or at the very least, the minimum amount due – on or before the due date,” said Alex Ilagan, Executive Director and Spokesperson for the CCAP.
Ilagan clarified that finance charges are only imposed when balances are not settled in full on due dates, thus underscoring the importance of checking statements of account for transaction details and due dates.
“Always pay your bills on time to avoid penalties. Remember, you will not be charged of any interest if you settle your balance in full on or before your due date. When paying by check or through any ATM, you also have to take into consideration the three-day clearing window,” Ilagan further noted.
If the cardholder ran up a total bill of R1,000 during the month but decides to pay only R999, the cardholder could be charged interest on the whole R1,000 because of the R1 deficit.
CCAP also would like to offer this simple mantra for the rest of the year: “Charge your credit card with things that you can afford and eventually pay for.” Ilagan also added, “Remember that making a list in advance and setting a budget will save you from payment worries.”
In settling card bills and to avoid incurring any late payment charges, Ilagan also suggests to pay direct debit from the cardholder’s bank account. In this way, consumers are assured that bills payment will be facilitated in a timely manner.
Ilagan also reminds cardholders to spend within their credit limit to avoid additional charges.
Along with responsible credit card management, the CCAP also urged the public to be vigilant against unscrupulous individuals or emails that inquire about sensitive information regarding the cardholder.
Ilagan explains banks will never ask for sensitive information such as your complete credit card number through emails, phone calls or text message, unless the cardholder is the one contacting the bank.
For this reason, CCAP outlined several warning signs cardholders should look for, in identifying whether someone is attempting to takeover their account.
By knowing the red-flags, cardholders can avoid becoming victims, Ilagan said.
While account takeover fraud is most common in financial institutions, there are also reported cases whereas this type of fraudulent act has happened in accounts used to purchase goods and services, or store and access classified data.
According to Ilagan account takeover fraud comes in various forms of identity theft.
“Account takeover fraud is when a fraudster obtains an individual’s personal information through various means. Using this information, the fraudster will pose as the cardholder and make fraudulent transactions,” Ilagan said.
To obtain sensitive information of the cardholder, the fraudster may call and pretend to be a bank employee and offer you a card upgrade, lifetime annual fee waiver or credit limit increase in exchange for your active card. Once the unsuspecting cardholder agrees, the fraudsters will send a messenger to pick up the card from the former’s address – then use the card afterwards.
Syndicates may also use spoof websites and email addresses that appear to be from trustworthy sources. Once a cardholder inputs his details into hoax websites, the sensitive information would then be used.
“They will try to trick you into providing your personal information such as passwords, your address, and credit card information. Commonly spoofed companies include well-known international financial institutions,” Ilagan said.
But what does a phishing email look like? According to CCAP, for the most part false emails have spelling and grammatical errors, sensationalized subjects as well as web links spelled out, and not as a hyperlink.
Phishing emails also routinely contain supposed threats that the cardholder’s account will be cancelled or closed if they do not respond with the confidential information being asked for, and at times have attachments ending in “.exe.” Always be wary of file attachments in emails, as they could potentially compromise the security of your computer.
Spoofed websites, on the other hand, are unsecure website addresses that do not have a lock logo is in the browser’s status bar—which indicates whether or not the site’s identity has been verified. At times the bank’s URL is also incorrect or slightly different from the official website.
“Be careful of emails and websites asking for confidential information such as passwords even if it is threatening to disable your account should you not provide certain information. Be sure to call your bank to confirm the authenticity of the request,” Ilagan said.
“It would be best to open a new browser window and type the URL directly. Be sure to check the address bar to make sure you are on the right website. For additional security, cardholders may download anti-phishing software from established anti-virus providers to block fake websites,” Ilagan said.
Should any cardholder receive calls or emails regarding the above stated matter, CCAP urges the public to verify first with their banks and check the authenticity of the offer.