Credit Card Fraud and How to Prevent It
Credit card fraud is prevalent in our society and as online criminals continue to become savvier, the risk is only going to grow. The best way to protect your company and your customers’ information is to be informed of the most likely ways criminals are stealing information and how to prevent it.
5 Most Common Ways Credit Card Information Is Stolen
- Phishing emails
Phishing emails may look official, but these fraudulent messages are crafted with a nefarious purpose. Most phishing emails try to get you to click a button or link that takes you to a familiar-looking fraudulent site to enter your account information.Another common phishing tactic is to provide an urgent (and entirely bogus) reason that you need to call a company, like your credit card company or Social Security office. They will list a fraudulent phone number and, when you call, request your personal information and even your card details to “confirm your identity.”
Downloading or opening the wrong file from an email or website can add spyware to your computer, which is put there with the goal of exporting your card details and other information hackers can use to steal your money or your identity. For example, keylogging software, like a skimmer, can compromise your credit card while it is in your wallet. But this form of spyware can end up on your computer or device if you accidentally click a link attached to a phishing email. Be careful what you download and prevent spyware by purchasing your own antivirus software.
- Public WiFi networks
Public internet networks, like the ones you find in hotels and airports, can easily put you at risk if you enter your account information or open sensitive documents and someone is monitoring the network. Make sure to install a VPN on your computer if you need to use the internet away from home fairly often.
- Major data breach
Large institutions, including banks and retail businesses, can be susceptible to targeted data breaches that put your credit card information and other personal details at risk. Some of the biggest data breaches of the last decade, including the Capital One data breach of 2019, led to tens of millions of consumers having their information stolen.
- The old-fashioned ways: your trash and ATM skimming
Finally, don’t forget that some thieves still try to steal your credit card data the old-fashioned way. Your trash can be a treasure trove when it comes to finding credit card and account numbers or figuring out which companies you use for your savings or investment accounts.Though less common nowadays, ATM skimming still happens. This type of fraud occurs when ATMs and other payment terminals are bugged with recording devices that gather your card information when you insert or swipe your card.
Check If Your Info Is Stolen
It’s important if you think your information is stolen that you check to make sure and take the appropriate actions to correct the situation and secure your accounts.
- Check your credit report for changes: You can make certain fraudulent activity isn’t occurring by keeping an eye on your credit report. You can regularly check your credit reports each week for free from all three credit bureaus —Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—using the website AnnualCreditReport.com. This is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Consumers can access their free credit reports weekly until April 20, 2022. Fraudulent activity on a credit report can hurt your credit score, so it is important to dispute the information as soon as you discover any inaccurate information.
- Utilize a credit and identity theft monitoring service: If you suspect unusual activity on your credit accounts, credit, and identity theft monitoring services review your credit reports and help you get to the bottom of any wrongdoing. You can access free or paid services offered through your bank, one of the three credit bureaus, or companies like LifeLock, Identity Guard, and IdentityForce.
- Keep an eye on your credit card statements: You can stay on top of your credit accounts by keeping an eye on your credit card statements regularly. By doing so, you can monitor your transactions more closely to ensure they align with your actual spending history. If you do happen to stumble across any unusual activity, report it to your credit card issuer immediately.
If your credit card number has been stolen, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)outlines the steps you should take right away:
- Report the loss of your credit card or card number to your issuer immediately. You can usually do this using its toll-free number or 24-hour emergency phone number.
- Follow up with a letter or email that includes your account number, the date and time the card was noticed missing, and when you reported the loss.
- Check your credit card statement carefully for purchases you didn’t make and report any fraudulent transactions immediately.
- Carefully monitor your credit reports to make sure nobody has more of your information and that the theft of your card hasn’t led to other instances of identity theft.
- You can check your credit reports each week for free from all three credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—using the website AnnualCreditReport.com
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