We’ve all heard horror stories about credit card fraud and were on the edge of our seats as we read each account. To avoid becoming a victim yourself, make sure you know what to look out for when selecting a card.
Warning Signs of Credit Card Fraud
In an effort to prevent you from falling victim to credit card fraud, we’ve compiled a list of things you should look out for. Read on to learn more about the red flags that may indicate avoiding credit card fraud is occurring.
Phishing Scam Email
One common warning sign of credit card fraud is fake emails and websites masquerading as your bank or credit card company. Phishing emails appear legitimate and have legitimate links and images that may fool you into clicking on the link or opening the attached attachment. These emails are designed to steal your personal information and credit card number. For example, an email may look like it comes from a legitimate bank or credit card company such as Wells Fargo, Chase, or Bank of America, and ask you to login to your online account or “update your account information.”
This is actually a fake email being sent to you by a criminal who is trying to get your personal information so that they can make a fraudulent transaction. If you receive a fraudulent email, do not click on any links in the email and do not respond to any requests for personal information. In addition, some of these fraudulent emails may also come in the form of phishing emails pretending to be legitimate companies or organizations.
A recent example is a warning being sent to users about a phishing email scam claiming that it’s from the IRS and asking them to reply with account and personal information. If you’re suspicious of the legitimacy of an email, you can look for clues like grammatical errors, misspellings, unusual or even suspicious content, poor grammar, or unusual use of words. If you think you’ve come across a scam email, don’t click on any links. Instead, delete the email and never click on any links in the future.
Badge Number Vandalism
Some credit card holders have reported that their payment card chips have been stripped and that a thin piece of metal is being used to reproduce a legitimate bank or credit card company’s badge number. A metal stripe is embedded inside the chip, and these steal the number so that it looks like the fraudster is doing the cardholder a favor by “helping” them activate the chip, and they can use the real badge number for their own fraudulent transactions.
In fact, one study found that nearly 70% of U.S. merchants have been victim to card skimming, which means that a criminal just steals your credit card information, and then skims or copies your actual card information onto a fake card. These phony cards can then be used by the criminal to make fraudulent purchases or withdrawals from the victim’s bank account.
Card Plate Vandalism
A small amount of these fraudulent badge numbers can also be removed by card plate vandalism. This crime can be perpetrated by using a hand-held cutting machine to make small holes in your credit card’s card plate. If the surface of the card is scratched, the legitimate number will be easily read by the machine, and your credit card information can be copied. Card Plate Vandalism can be difficult to detect. However, it does provide an opportunity for you to check the bank and card company’s website to ensure that your credit card information hasn’t been stolen.
For example, the financial institution or credit card company may not show a number for your card plate on their website. This is why the first step in identifying card plate vandalism is to check your credit card statement to see if you have any unauthorized transactions or charges on your account. If you spot any suspicious activity, contact your credit card company immediately.
Check Your Phone to See if Your Number Is on Your iPhone
Another strategy to identify card plate vandalism is to check your phone’s Find My iPhone or Find My Mobile app to make sure that your phone number is on your iPhone. If it is not, the crook can then make fraudulent purchases or withdraw money from your account. Find My iPhone will show you where your phone is and your last known location. If the thief uses Find My iPhone to lock your phone, it will disable any possibility of the thief stealing your information.
Sometimes, if you take the time to update your phone with the latest security patches, the Find My iPhone app may also alert you if your number is missing from your phone. To receive this information, go to settings and tap the “Find My iPhone” option. If your phone is already locked, the app may notify you if your number is removed from your phone. If your phone is not currently unlocked, the app may not be able to display a number for you to respond to.
Put Down Your Phone Before Sharing Your Number with Anyone
Finally, it is always wise to never give out your personal credit card number to anyone, whether it’s a salesperson in a retail store or a private seller. This advice is especially true when you’re buying online. If you give a private seller your credit card number, the seller can then request payment or sales tax, and even make any purchases for you.
If you make purchases on a credit card and then receive a late payment or notice of a bounced check, then the credit card company may end up charging you additional fees. After using this strategy, you may find that you can feel more secure when buying online. Not only that, but this strategy can also help keep you from becoming a victim of card plate vandalism.
Credit Card Skimmers
Another way to be sure you don’t lose money from your credit card is by making sure that there aren’t any skimmers on the gas pump, or any other place a credit card could be swiped and later used. A credit card skimmer is a small device that is installed on gas pumps or other payment card readers, and often captures your card information by using skimming devices, PINs, or a camera to capture your PIN, or by placing a hidden camera.
A skimmer looks similar to a normal credit card reader. Once you put your card into the skimmer, it captures the information, which can later be used by a criminal to make fraudulent purchases. In addition, a criminal may also use a skimmer to get your card PIN, or simply use a skimmer for theft. A method called skimming, where criminals place a skimmer inside a card reader, has become the most common type of skimming devices. The skimmer is so small and light that it is often undetectable by most people when they insert their cards into a card reader.
Fraudulent Charges and Losses
Some credit card holders also report that their bank accounts have been frozen, and that the bank has charged their accounts with fraudulent purchases. Some cardholders may notice that the use of their card has been blocked, and that they’re unable to use their cards for any transactions, even if they do not have any open charges on their cards. Other customers may only see unauthorized purchases on their accounts, and the charges are not refunded, even though the bank maintains that there is nothing wrong with their cards or accounts.
Another form of avoid credit card fraud that has been making headlines recently is ticket fraud. This is when a person buys a ticket to a large-scale event such as a concert or sporting event in advance and then resells the tickets at a high price. The tickets purchased in advance are often not the actual tickets, and the event is not occurring at the agreed-upon time. The criminal’s motive is to resell the tickets for a profit. Credit cards are one of the most popular ways for criminals to get funds.
If they have access to your account, it makes it much easier to make a large purchase such as a large-scale concert ticket in advance. If you suspect that you’ve had your credit card compromised, contact your financial institution immediately. They will be able to help you prevent further financial damage.
Plaintext or Encrypted Information
Plaintext information includes information that is stored in plain text, such as a payment card’s number and expiration date. Encrypted information, however, is designed to be secure, meaning that the sender and receiver need to know the correct key to access the information. In plain text, the data is essentially written and transmitted without the encryption, which makes it more vulnerable to hackers.
Similarly, when you receive an email from a company asking for sensitive information such as passwords, banks require you to respond with a signed, encrypted message in order to verify the legitimacy of the request. Never share your password or other personal information via email. Instead, use secure methods of communication such as an encrypted text message, phone call, or contact form.
Use a Credit Card with a Non-Exclusive Warranty
One key factor to avoid credit card fraud is to pay attention to the terms of your credit card agreement. Many cards have protections that cover your purchase if your credit card is lost, stolen, or fraudulently used. One popular credit card, for example, is the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. This card has a $500 theft or loss protection feature. In order to use this feature, your card will be immediately blocked for one year if your credit card is fraudulently used.
If you cancel your credit card, you will be required to pay a $50 cancellation fee. You also can incur additional fees if you need to cancel your card during the year. Make sure you read and understand the terms of your credit card agreement before signing up. If you are not sure of the details, don’t just agree to the purchase. Rather, talk to a consumer credit counselor to make sure you understand the agreement.
Credit card thieves often use unusual techniques and means to try to make their fraudulent purchases. If you are not a victim, but you notice anything strange, suspicious, or unusual, you should report it to the bank, your card issuer, or the police. Just because your card is not being used for fraudulent purchases, it does not mean that the card has not been compromised, so be on the lookout for any changes in your bank account.
If you feel something is amiss with your account, you can call your credit card issuer to see if they have noticed a problem with your account. A lot of times, if you report fraud and the bank looks it and solve the problem.
When it comes to protecting your credit card information from fraud, the best course of action is to monitor your credit card transactions carefully, report any fraud, and to avoid making any unauthorized purchases or withdrawals. As you can see, you can’t guarantee that you’ll be safe from all fraudsters, but with the information you’re about to read, you should be able to identify some of the most common scam tactics and weaknesses. So, remember that your best defense against these criminals is to be on your guard, remain vigilant, and keep your eyes open for anything suspicious.
It is always wise to never give out your personal credit card number to anyone, whether it’s a salesperson in a retail store or a private seller. This advice is especially true when you’re buying online. You can help by keeping an eye out for suspicious activity, making sure that your credit card info is always protected, and not entering your PIN at a reader or a credit card terminal that you do not recognize. Most importantly, if you do notice something out of the ordinary, you should report it to your credit card issuer immediately, and the credit card company should be able to help you.
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