Published: November 16, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has likely forever changed how we purchase goods and services—at home and at work. E-commerce and contactless payment options have become the norm, and many governments have transitioned to using credit cards for the majority of purchases and for receiving payments. But as more online transactions occur, fraudsters also have more opportunities to steal credit card information. And judging from loss reports to the State Auditor’s Office, the fraudsters are finding success in their schemes.
Credit card data is stolen in many ways: phishing, skimmers, malware, scam phone calls, dishonest employees and data breaches. We cannot absolutely prevent credit card fraud, but there are things we can do to mitigate the risk to our governments. Here are some tips for governments to consider as electronic payments increase.
Review your statements regularly
With a significant shift to online purchasing, it is more important than ever that you keep a close eye on your credit card statements to look for charges you do not recognize. Consider whether reviewing purchasing activities on a monthly basis is timely enough. If your government does a lot of online purchasing, a weekly review might make more sense.
Limit access to shared credit cards
Governments commonly have a limited number of credit cards that are shared among employees. Be sure to have sound check-in and check-out procedures when your staff needs access to your government’s credit cards. Also, when cards are not being used, make sure they are kept in a secured location.
Avoid debit cards
Debit cards can be a risk for your government. If your bank account is compromised through a debit card, a fraudster can quickly deplete your government’s assets. Credit cards, on the other hand, often offer fraud protection, identity theft assistance and guarantee no liability.
Sign up for automatic alerts
Sign up to receive electronic notifications from your credit card company as an extra layer of protection. Automatic alerts can be customized to notify you when a transaction exceeds a certain dollar amount, a purchase was made internationally or was made for a certain commodity type.
What to do if you’re a victim of fraud
If you identify potentially fraudulent purchasing activity, report it to your credit card company immediately. You should also determine whether the scam should be reported to local law enforcement officials.
State law requires local and state governments to report all known or suspected losses of public funds to the State Auditor’s Office, which can be done by following this link
As the use of credit cards grows, governments need to continue to be good stewards of our public resources. You can find more information about establishing best practices for credit card programs on SAO’s website.