Credit card scams have become a major concern for individuals, businesses, and financial institutions.
These scams involve fraudsters using various tactics to steal credit card information and misuse it for their own financial gain.
Immediately file a chargeback if you see an unknown charge and possibly even have your credit card replaced as it may be compromised.
Here are six common credit card scams that you should be aware of:
Phishing scams are one of the most common credit card scams.
This scam involves a fraudster sending an email, text message, or phone call posing as a financial institution or retailer.
They request sensitive information like credit card numbers, PINs, or CVV codes.
Often, these scammers will use scare tactics like claiming your account has been compromised, and urgent action is needed.
Once they have your credit card information, they can make fraudulent purchases.
Never share sensitive information with anyone unless you initiated the contact.
Be wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or text messages.
Legitimate financial institutions and retailers will never ask for your credit card information via email or text message.
Skimming scams are another type of credit card fraud.
This scam involves a fraudster using a skimming device to steal credit card information from the magnetic strip on the back of the card.
Skimming devices are small and can be attached to ATMs, gas pumps, or other payment terminals.
When you swipe your credit card, the skimming device captures the information on the magnetic strip.
It’s recommended to use payment terminals that are in plain sight, such as those at bank branches, rather than those in remote areas.
Also, cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN, which can prevent a skimmer from capturing your PIN.
Info Theft Scams
Info theft scams occur when a fraudster uses your credit card information to make purchases online or over the phone.
They don’t require the physical card to make transactions.
Fraudsters may obtain credit card information through phishing scams or data breaches.
They then use this information to make purchases online or over the phone.
Ensure that the websites you are making purchases from are reputable and secure.
Look for “https” in the website address or the lock icon on your browser, which indicates a secure website.
Use strong and unique passwords for each website, and never save your credit card information on a website.
Public WiFi Scams
A public WiFi credit card scam is a type of fraud that occurs when scammers use public WiFi networks to intercept sensitive financial information, such as credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal details.
When someone uses a public WiFi network to make a purchase or conduct a banking transaction, their information is transmitted over an unsecured network, which can make it vulnerable to interception.
Scammers may set up fake WiFi networks that appear to be legitimate, but are actually designed to steal information from unsuspecting users.
In this scam, the scammers position themselves between the victim’s device and the public WiFi network, and intercept any data that is being transmitted between the two.
This can allow the scammers to steal sensitive financial information without the victim even realizing it.
It’s important to be cautious when using public WiFi networks.
Avoid using public WiFi networks for sensitive transactions like online banking, and use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data and protect your privacy.
Additionally, make sure your device’s software is up-to-date and use a reputable anti-virus program to protect against malware and other cyber threats.
Finally, never share sensitive information over public WiFi networks, including credit card numbers and passwords.
Account Takeover Scams
Account takeover scams involve a fraudster gaining access to your credit card account through hacking, phishing, or other means.
They then change the account information, such as the billing address, email address, or phone number, so that you no longer have access to the account.
Once they have control of the account, they can make purchases or change the account information to prevent you from discovering the fraud.
Regularly monitor your credit card statements and check for any unauthorized purchases.
Use strong and unique passwords for each website and enable two-factor authentication wherever possible.
If you suspect that your account has been compromised, contact your credit card company immediately.
Fake Rewards Scams
A fake rewards scam is a type of fraud where scammers try to trick people into providing personal information or paying money to receive a reward that doesn’t exist.
These scams are usually conducted through unsolicited emails, text messages, or phone calls, and the fraudsters may claim to represent a reputable company or brand.
The goal of a fake rewards scam is to lure the victim into providing personal information, such as credit card details, in exchange for a supposed reward, such as a free vacation or a large sum of money.
In some cases, the scammer may also ask for a payment or processing fee in order to claim the reward.
Once the victim has provided the requested information or made the payment, the scammer may disappear, leaving the victim with nothing in return.
In some cases, the scammer may also use the victim’s personal information to commit identity theft or other types of fraud.
It’s important to be cautious of unsolicited offers that sound too good to be true.
Don’t provide personal information or payment details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
Verify the legitimacy of the offer by contacting the company or brand directly through their official website or phone number.
inally, report any suspicious offers or requests to the relevant authorities or your financial institution.
Protecting Yourself Against Credit Card Scams
There are multiple simple steps you can take to protect yourself from credit card scams and fraud.
1. Physical Security
The most straightforward way for a criminal to steal using your credit card is to physically obtain it.
Once in possession, it becomes effortless for them to use it for purchases, either by tapping the card or using it online.
It’s crucial to store all credit cards securely and never share sensitive information like the card number or CVV code.
After use, promptly return the card to its secure place.
When visiting a location where theft and pickpocketing are common, take extra precautions.
If your credit card is lost or stolen, contact your credit card company immediately.
They can lock your card and reverse any fraudulent charges.
Nowadays you can also lock your card via online banking or mobile app.
2. Verify Online Merchants
Online shopping is convenient, but you still need to be careful where you input your credit card information.
It’s best to only use cards to pay trustworthy businesses on secured sites.
Check to make sure any merchant’s URL is genuine and secured via an SSL certificate.
Make sure there’s an ‘s’ after the ‘http’ and look for the lock icon beside the link.
Canadian corporations are registered with Corporations Canada.
Corporations Canada has a complete list of all federal corporations, with some exceptions.
You can look for businesses from your province in Canada’s business registries.
Platforms like the Better Business Bureau provide impartial feedback and conflict mediation for consumers.
You can find Canadian and US businesses on their website, look for high ratings for transparency and past customer support inquiries.
3. Payment Portals
When paying online, if possible, avoid providing your credit card information directly on a site.
Secure payment providers like PayPal and Google Pay maintain stronger security.
But most sites can’t guarantee your information security on their own.
When paying for many services, don’t let the site remember or store your card number.
It may be convenient to have everything automatically filled in, but it’s risky with credit card information.
Using a secure payment portal like one of those mentioned above greatly reduces that risk.
4. Scan Your Computer for Viruses
Some viruses can infect your computer through your browser when you go online.
Spyware is often used to scout for financial information.
Once you’ve downloaded files with the spyware, your information is at risk.
If you don’t have virus protection, getting it would be a great step to protect yourself.
Virus protection is useful for much more than just credit card fraud avoidance as well.
Using the right software will protect your computer and your credit card information while shopping online.
5. Continue To Educate Yourself
Old scams are easier to detect than new ones.
A scammer or fraudster’s tactics are constantly evolving.
That’s why it’s good to keep up with tactics fraudsters are using.
New scams are developed every day and old ones that work are repeated.
The latter are easier to spot.
A prime example is fraudulent emails.
These emails often appear as alerts, and they direct you to open an attachment or follow a link.
They simply ask you for your credit card information at some point, and that’s all.
The above scam is fairly old, but email scams are still common because they work.
Learning about old scams and keeping up with the news for recent scams will equip you with a healthy level of suspicion.
The first level of authentication for a credit card is its PIN.
You can protect yourself by starting with a strong PIN. A strong PIN is:
- Doesn’t use birthdates of loved ones.
- Not just consecutive numbers.
- Not a match with telephone numbers, SSNs, or other personal information.
After you change your PIN to a more secure number you can take additional security measures.
Biometric measures are now common for mobile banking apps.
You simply provide a fingerprint, which you then use every time you authorize a transaction.
In some cases, fingerprints are used as a replacement for PINs.
Different banks offer other authentication methods.
Two factor authentication where you receive a code via email or text message can add an additional layer of security.
By setting up greater authentication, you can reduce your risk of falling victim to a credit card scam.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can someone use my credit card with just the number?
Generally no, you cannot charge a credit card with just a credit card number.
If your credit card can be tapped, however, all you need is to physically possess the credit card to use it for payment. Tapping doesn’t require any additional verification and doesn’t even require your PIN. The only safety feature is normally a maximum charge, after which tapping is no longer possible.
- What is credit card phishing?
Phishing is a scam where the attacker pretends to be a legitimate authority or trusted figure. They use email, phone, and other mediums to go “phishing” for victims’ information. Phishing is often used for identity theft, but some phishers just collect credit card information.
Phishing is one of the largest cybersecurity threats today. It’s so common that there are training programs that teach employees how to avoid it at work. By learning about the latest kinds of phishing attempts, you can also avoid being tricked.