No one wants to be the victim of a credit card scammer. Once someone has your credit card number and other information, there’s no turning back. They could steal your money, assume your identity, and ruin your credit score. To help you avoid becoming a victim yourself, we discuss everything there is to know about credit cards scams below.
What Is A Credit Card Scam?
Simply put, a credit card scam is when someone seeks your credit card and related personal information in order to exploit you in some way. They could be seeking to commit credit fraud or identity theft. Once they have your information, they are likely going to access your credit card account(s), apply for cards in your name, or sell your information to others.
Common Types of Credit Card Scams
Skimming is the most commonly heard about credit card scam type. Card skimmers are placed on top of real card readers and keypads. When someone goes to swipe their credit or debit card and enter their PIN, the device will store the card information. Later on, the skimming criminal will pick up the device and use the information to exploit you. These devices are often placed in public locations like gas stations and ATMs.
– Email Phishing
Email phishing is when someone emails you pretending to be a legitimate company looking to get your personal information. In the case of credit cards, one of your credit card companies (but really a phisher) may contact you regarding an opportunity (ex: increasing your limit). However, in order to complete this task, they will need your credit card information, name, social security number, etc. In general, the email looks legit, but once you take a closer look, you can see it’s from a fake company/person.
– Security Alert
You may receive a text or call saying there was a security issue with your card. The first thing that usually comes to mind is: “Oh no! What happened? I must act immediately!” Most people don’t even take a second to question the validity of what the text or representative is trying to say. They will likely ask you to enter your PIN, credit card or account number, and/or social security number to validate you are the account holder. And being that you think it’s legit, you give your personal information over willingly.
– Gift Card or Prize
So, someone contacts you via email, text, or a phone call saying you’ve won a gift card or prize. As anyone would be, you’re ecstatic! However, the person contacting you says you must provide your credit card or bank account to claim it. If anyone ever asks you this, don’t give your information away.
– Late Bill
This scam is pretty self explanatory. Someone who’s pretending to be from a company you’re a customer of calls you about an overdue bill. They will likely ask you to pay right away by providing your debit or credit card so you aren’t penalized in any way.
– Fake Credit Card Sites
Often, hackers will create fake credit card websites in order to obtain people’s credit card account information. The hacker will contact a person saying something urgent like they have an amazing offer for them or their account has been compromised. They direct them to their fake site (that looks legit), where they must fill out a form with their personal and account information. Once this information is obtained by the hackers, they will either use it themselves, hold it for ransom, or sell it to a third-party.
– Malicious Software
Online criminals can get access to your credit or debit card information by using malicious software to invade your device(s). This can happen in a number of ways:
- Visit a non-secure and infected website, or fake website.
- Click on a link in a text or email that contains malicious code.
- Download an infected file or sketchy third-party app.
How To Protect Yourself From Credit Card Scams
– Don’t Give Away Personal information
Even if the person is very persuasive, don’t give anyone or any website your personal information without investigating further. Some of the calls, emails, or texts you receive may be legit, but not all are. Avoid leaving yourself open to being scammed by being aware of who you give your information out to.
– Set-Up Fraud Alerts On Your Credit Cards and Bank Accounts
Most credit card companies provide a way to set up credit fraud alerts, whether via email, text, or app. These alerts will let you know if there’s any suspicious activity or fraudulent charges on your account. If one of the alerts is legit, immediately report to the card issuer.
– Check Your Credit Score
In general, you should run a credit report about once a year. A drastic decrease in your credit score is a key sign that something is wrong. If after investigating and coming up with no answers, you may have possibly been the victim of identity theft. You can report any case of identity theft by going to IdentityTheft.gov.
– Open Your Bills Right Away
It’s always good practice to open your bills as you receive them, whether through the mail or online. This way, if there are any suspicious charges, you have enough time to look into them and dispute them.
– Make Sure Your Devices Are Secure and Updated
As said before, your information could be obtained through malicious software. To protect yourself from it, make sure your firewall is constantly active, you have antivirus software, and your device is updated to the latest version. Also, ensure that you are using a trusted Private Wi-Fi Network or use a VPN while browsing online.
That’s practically everything there is to know about credit card scams. Now that you’re educated on the types of credit scams and precautions you can take, you can better protect yourself when being targeted.