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Updated on Wednesday, April 15, 2015
You’ve likely heard the adage, “the best defense is a good offense.” Much like on the football field, it’s best to be proactive about your finances to avoid getting swindled. But perhaps it’s better to say, “the best offense is a good defense.”
There are numerous ways to create safeguards and a system of checks and balances in order to keep constant tabs on your financial health. We recommend limiting the amount you keep in checking accounts so thieves can’t drain your money with a few clicks. We suggest you don’t use ATMs outside of a bank vestibule to minimize contact with skimmers. Passwords should get changed regularly and never access financial information from unsecured WiFi. All these rules help provide a layer of defense in an increasingly technologically advanced world. Fortunately, there is a simpler way to keep tabs on credit cards.
Select credit card companies and banks offer another way to protect your finances: credit card transaction alerts.
Protecting Against Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is so prevalent; it’s unlikely you’ll make it through your lifetime without getting hit at least once. In fact, I dealt with two instances of credit card fraud within a week of each other in 2014.
Once your card’s information (or physical card) falls into the hands of a crook, your only recourse is to alert your credit card company, cancel the card and be issued a new number. But it’s helpful to know the fraud is happening from the first bad transaction.
Banks and credit card lenders have sophisticated fraud detection and will likely get to you before you even notice the charges racking up, but it’s helpful if you’re alerted right away as well.
Setting up text message alerts is best way to stay aware of all credit card transactions. Plus, it keeps you in tune with how many credit card transactions you’ve made in the day. Not a bad way to keep within your budget.
The transaction alerts are instantaneous, so if you see an alert for a purchase you didn’t make, it’s easy to contact your bank and shut down the fraudulent activity.
How to Set Up Text Message Alerts
Step 1: Go to your American Express homepage and click on “Profile” then select “Account Alerts” and “Manage Account Alerts.”
Step 2: Unlike Discover, AMEX does not offer the same type of spending text alerts (minimum threshold is $10). However, you can sign up for Fraud Alerts and Spending Alerts. Click Fraud Alerts and to receive a text when irregular account activity posts to your account.
Step 3: Click on “Spending Alerts” and select for an account snapshot to be sent daily as well as a spend tracking alert to be sent when purchases in a billing period exceeds $10 (the minimum threshold).
Step 4: Don’t forget to click save!
Step 1: Log into Barclays
Step 2: Select “Account Settings”
Step 3: Select “Edit” next to “Alerts”
Step 4: Set a “Single Transaction” alert (you can make it $0.01) and choose whether you want to send that alert to an email address, or to have it texted to you
Step 1: Log in to your Chase profile
Step 2: Go to the “My Accounts Page” and click on “Manage Account Alerts”
Step 3: Select the account you’d like to enroll in Alerts and then select how you’d like to receive alerts (click Text Message)
Step 4: Click “Update Alerts”
Step 5: You’ll see a confirmation page overviewing your updates and also a confirmation email/text
Step 1: Log in to your Citibank account online
Step 2: Click on “Account Management” at the top of the page
Step 3: Click on “Enroll In/ Manage Citi Alerting Service”
Step 4: Click on “Edit” next to “mobile 1” – which is your cell phone number that should already be enrolled.
Step 5: Under the tab “Credit Card,” tick the box next to “Transaction Notifications.” You can set a very low transaction amount (for example, one cent) so that all transactions will be sent to you. You can choose where to send them: your email address, your phone or both.
Step 6: At the bottom of the page, click “Save”
Step 1: Log in to your Discover account and click on “Account”
Step 2: Select “Account Alerts” under “Communication”
Step 3: Select “Protect Your Account” and sign up for fraud alerts via text message by clicking text. This will send you a text if Discover notices any unusual activity.
Step 4: Click on “Track Your Spending” and click text alert for purchases exceeding a set number. Your minimum should be $1 or even less because thieves often test credit cards by making really small purchases at first to fly under the radar.
Step 5: Click save and respond “YES” to text message sent to your confirming you want to be enrolled in text updates.