Credit card scams have unfortunately become increasingly common and costly.
The good news is that people are far from helpless.
There are multiple simple steps you can take to protect yourself from credit card scams and fraud.
1. Physical Security
The easiest way for a criminal to steal using your credit is to physically acquire your credit card.
Once your credit card is in a criminal’s hands, it’s very easy for them to use it.
If you can tap your card for purchases, they can immediately start doing so.
If they want to make online purchases, they won’t have much trouble making them with your credit card.
You should store all credit cards in a secure place and be sure to never share sensitive information such as your card number or security code (CVV) with anyone.
As a habit, it’s important to return your card there immediately after use.
Take extra precautions if you are going to a mall or other venue where theft and pickpocketing are common.
If your credit card is lost or physically stolen, call your credit card company immediately.
Your credit card company can lock your card.
Increasingly, you can lock your card immediately yourself through your online banking portal or mobile banking app.
They can also reverse fraudulent charges if the criminal started making any.
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 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.
To charge a credit card, you typically need the number, expiration date, and security number. Credit cards have a separate 3-digit security verification code on the back.
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.