Ways that Credit Card Theft Occurs
Today, many people use cashless alternatives to pay for their items at the grocery store, restaurant, or even online. While your information is usually secure, unfortunately, there are times when thieves access your information. When this happens, you’ll see random purchases for unexpected items in areas you may have never visited. Still, you might wonder how this could ever happen to you. That’s why it’s important to know these ways that credit card theft occurs so you can avoid becoming a victim.
Phishing refers to the scam practice of deceptive emails being sent to consumers. These emails purposefully imitate that person’s bank to get them to reveal sensitive information. This includes bank account numbers, passwords, PINs, and any other data that criminals can use to steal your money. These criminals use logos and URLs that look similar to actual banks. It’s important to be aware of this to avoid falling into this trap. Banks never send out emails asking for private information, so delete any emails that seem suspicious in this sense.
Another common method of credit card theft is through malware and viruses. Also called spyware, these viruses can download through emails or other attachments that remain undetected. Hackers can use these to gain insight into personal computers and access different passwords or keystrokes that you do. This information is sent directly to the criminal so they can access your bank account. To avoid this, make sure to download anti-virus software to detect any suspicious downloads. Also, never download anything from suspicious or untrustworthy websites.
Spam Phone Calls
Similar to phishing emails, some thieves take advantage of trusting seniors or older residents because they’re easy targets for spam phone calls. These calls may seem like reliable sources, such as banks or donation centers, when in actuality they can come from scams that require you to give credit card information. Prerecorded phone calls clog voicemail boxes with fake credit card issuers claiming to require a fee and sensitive bank information. Many of these spam calls are robocalls, so be aware of any voices that sound off or suspicious. If you notice your card being used for random purchases, call your bank and cancel it right away. Then, get a new one and be sure not to spread your information out.
Lastly, many people fall victim to credit card skimming. This occurs when criminals use electronic devices to copy your credit card information. These electronic devices—also called skimmers—capture and save all details in the magnetic stripe of a credit or debit card. Fortunately, there is an easy way to avoid this. Many criminals who skim credit card information use radio-frequency identification (RFID) to copy this information, but there are RFID-blocking wallets to fully protect your credit card. Also, be aware of any suspicious card readers when out shopping. Some signs to look for are loose parts in the reader, a void security seal, and a thicker pin pad. While these are important to know, sometimes credit card skimming happens when you least expect it. While you can still use your bank cards, just be cautious when shopping or using ATMs.
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