Card thieves always leave particular tracks.
Why do people have to steal from each other? Life is frustrating enough without worrying about some jerk on the other side of the world stealing your credit card to buy a yacht or something. What brings a person to a state where they say to themselves, “yes, I’m completely fine with ruining a stranger for life for momentary self-satisfaction?” Well, it’d take too long to logic that out, but at the very least, we can remain vigilant and ensure they don’t get away with it.
Credit card info thieves tend to all follow a very particular playbook to maximize their use of your stolen credentials without casting suspicion on themselves. It’s kind of like a game of chicken to them, making as many purchases as possible before you catch on and shut the gates. The first move will usually be making lots of small purchases. Most people don’t read their entire credit card statements every month, so it is possible to blitz purchases of a few dollars at a time past people. Keep a regular eye on your statement; if you see lots of small purchases, that’s a big red flag.
Speaking of red flags, you should also watch for payments to companies you don’t recognize, and especially in places you haven’t been or don’t have dealings with. In fairness, some companies have different names that show up on invoices, so you might just need to trace your own memories back to recall a purchase you actually made. If you genuinely don’t remember making a particular purchase, though, chances are good that you didn’t.
Most credit cards have built in security features you can utilize to track suspicious purchases. These can be turned on at your leisure, either through online portals or with a quick call to your banking institution. These features include email and text alerts for suspicious purchases, as well as temporary card freezes in an emergency.