11 Ways to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud

Protecting yourself from credit card fraud is now more important than ever. According to statistics website, Statista, there are 1.79 billion online shoppers globally. This number is expected to swell to 2.14 billion by 2021. Those are impressive numbers, and credit card fraudsters can see that the field is ripe for the picking. A number of the following tips are really not sage advice and are well-known, but you would be surprised how many people ignore them. Want to keep your credit card safe? Read on.

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1. Never store your credit card details on your browser

Most current web browsers have an autosave feature. Although this is a convenience, it might come at a steep price – your credit card details getting stolen. Whenever you enter your credit card details for the first time, your web browser asks to save this information. Always select ‘No’. If you have already saved these details, read our post on deleting autosave data from some of the most popular websites.

Case in point: Cybersecurity experts warned Chrome users about malware called Vega Stealer. Experts said that the programme could steal saved passwords, documents, and credit card details.

2. Shred old cards

In case you get a card replacement, make sure you completely shred the old one. It’s not just a matter of destroying the card, you actually have to make sure scavengers can’t make anything of it. If you do not have a shredder, check out our list of the best document shredders on Amazon. All of these can handle ordinary paper as well as credit card material.

Case in point: Dave Wiganowsky, a resident of Dane County, Wisconsin State, cancelled his DirectTV subscription in December 2017. To his shock, he found charges of $95 and $100 in March of 2018. Dave queried about the charges but AT&T customer service told him someone might have stolen his old credit card information and used it to pay for DirectTV elsewhere.

3. Never send card details over email

It’s not just credit card details but all sensitive information should not be sent over email. There are many ways an email you send can land in the hands of an identity thief. Firstly, all emails have to reside on your device as well as that of the recipient. Secondly, the email has to go through servers and routers and there is no guarantee that the whole itinerary is secure.

Case in point: Between January 2nd and April 17th, the American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, Aflac, suffered a data breach in which the emails of sales agents were extracted. The hack resulted in the leak of clients’ personal information including dates of birth, social security numbers, bank account details, and credit card information.

4. Never use sketchy websites to shop online


No matter how good a deal might be, never enter your credit card details on sketchy websites. Try to dig up whatever reviews you can when dealing an unknown site. If you find any negative reviews pertaining to credit card fraud, run! If you do not find any reviews at all, whether negative or opposite, run- unless you want to be the one that writes that first rant review.

Case in point: Information Security Buzz unearthed a number of online shopping sites in China and Japan created for the sole purpose of stealing credit card information. Users would buy items which would never arrive, but while they waited, the scammers would use their credit card details to shop online.

5. Be wary of live links sent in emails

One of the oldest tricks in the scammer’s book is to send you links via email and web browser pop-ups. Once you click on a link, you are led to a site that looks like one of any of the well-known websites. Whatever details you enter will be captured and used in any way the scammer wishes. Sometimes, the fraudsters will just sell the information.

Case in point: In 2015, Grant West, the Just Eat hacker who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on May 25th, 2018, harvested personal details from hundreds of thousands of people. He sent bogus emails to Just Eat customers asking them to take a survey about their service. Grant then sold the details to other criminals on the dark website called Alpha Bay under the username ‘Courvoisier’. The criminals then proceeded to extract huge amounts of money from the victims.

6. Protect your card from scanning

Radio Frequency Identification involves embedding a chip in items such as retail products for inventory purposes, and even in credit cards for contactless reading. Although computer security specialist Roger A. Grimes says you should not be concerned, credit card criminals can potentially read your details using RFID readers from as far as 10 feet away. You can use RFID blocking wallets from Amazon or wrap your card in aluminum foil.

Case in point: During a Shmoocon hacker conference, Kristin Paget, a hacker, demonstrated how easy it is to grab credit card details using an RFID scanner and embed the data on a blank card. Right on stage, she extracted credit card information from a card that was not only feet away but also hidden. Paget then made a clone and charged $15 on it.

7. Protect your credit card from skimming

Crooks can sometimes gain access to facilities such as gas pumps and install devices that can capture credit card details. They also install covert cameras that allow them to capture PINs. With those details, they are able to clone the original card and use it however they like. Be careful when using your card in secluded and poorly lit points of service as that is where fraudsters easily install such devices.

Case in point: From January 2017 to May 2018, at least 87 credit card skimming operations had been exposed. The skimmers were found in 72 different POS in Arizona. Officials said the devices used have become sophisticated, with some being able to transmit card details via Bluetooth.

8. Do not store your card details on merchant websites

Some sites ask to store your credit card details to avoid repetitive detail submission on subsequent transactions. However, this makes you vulnerable to the mass data breaches that occur from time to time. Hackers sometimes harvest mass details from sites that they then use to extract money from customers. Do not leave your details on online shopping portals.

Case in point: Acer, one of the most popular tech companies, was hacked between 12th May 2015 and 28th April 2016. The breach resulted in the hackers obtaining credit card details including card payment numbers, CCV numbers, and expiry dates. Names and addresses were also compromised.

9. Update your bank whenever you change your address

Have you moved recently? Quickly inform your credit card issuer to keep your records updated. This is really important because if your records are outdated, your issuer might send card replacements and confidential bank statements to the wrong address.

Case in point: A user on the wedding planning website, Hitched.com, explained how she lost her money after her bank sent her card to the wrong address. The bank sent the card to an address from which she had moved six months earlier. Although in this case the user actually informed the bank, it goes to show what could happen if your card issuer has outdated details.

10. Never use an obvious PIN

Of course, you want something that will be easy to remember. However, make sure easy-to-remember does not equal easy-to-guess. For example, your PIN should not have anything to do with your date of birth or that of your partner. Nick Berry of Data Genetics unveiled his research which showed that 1234, 1111, and 0000 accounts for 18.6% of all PINs.

Case in point: In April 2016, Sengkang Neighbourhood Police of Singapore arrested two men for ATM theft. The two 20-year-olds found a card in a wallet and guessed the PIN using the victim’s date of birth. The man just saw a text notification from his bank stating that $2000 had been debited from his account.

11. Never perform online financial transactions on public WiFi

What do you see when you find free WiFi that is not password-protected? Free, merry passage to the online world? A hacker, on the other hand, sees hassle-free access to your personal details. It is easy for a hacker to tap into public WiFi and grab information such as credit card details from any device on the network.

Case in Point: In 2015, NBC reported a scam in which hackers were offering free WiFi in popular tourist hotspots such as New York’s Times Square. The free WiFi was however just a way to steal sensitive personal details from unsuspecting web surfers.

As technology evolves, so do criminal tactics. In fact, it seems hackers just have a way of keeping up with the latest technology in cybersecurity. In most cases, protecting your credit card from hackers and fraudsters is a matter of common sense.  As for the more sophisticated credit card fraud methods, always keep an eye out for whatever new trick comes along.

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