In today’s society, credit cards are a way of life for many people. Consumers don’t hesitate to whip out their card at stores, restaurants, or even online to purchase items. It’s an easy and convenient way to buy goods and services. However, carrying and using a credit card isn’t without its risks. Credit card fraud has affected 47% of Americans in the past 5 years. That’s alarming, especially if you are one to use credit cards frequently. To stay aware of the risks, let’s take a look at four common ways that your credit card information can be stolen.
A common way people get your card information is through devices called skimmers. A skimmer is a device that people can place on ATMs or gas pump card readers that will take your card information when you scan it to make your purchase. Your purchase still goes through, but now someone has your information as well. Some people carry skimmers around with them. This is especially useful to people with service jobs like a waiter or waitress. When you give them your card to pay for your meal, they can take it to the back and use their skimmer to get your information, then process your payment through the restaurant, and you have no idea what has just transpired.
It’s important to be aware of the devices you are scanning your card into. If you see something off or different about the card reader you are about to use, alert the owner of the business you are at, because it’s likely a skimmer has been put into play.
Phishing For Info
We’ve talked about phishing before, but it is another very common way people can get their hands on your information. Phishing is when someone sends you an email or calls you saying they are from a reputable company (one that they know you use regularly), and they need you to give them your credit card or your social security number for a certain reason. Sometimes their claims can sound legit, and they usually make their emails look official–like they really are from the company they claim. However, it’s all a ruse to get your info. If you don’t know about phishing, you might give them all your personal information, and then they have it to do whatever they please.
The bottom line here is be very aware of who is sending you emails. Never, ever give your personal information over email or the phone. If you suspect the email isn’t a real message from the company, call the actual company and question them about your situation. It’s much better to double check and find out they were real than to give out your information to a thief.
Another common way for thieves to deceive you into getting your information is through spyware. If they can get spyware installed on your computer, they can pretty much see everything you do online. They can record your keystrokes, track your online activities, slow down your device, and some can even take over your computer. If they monitor your online activity and keystrokes, it’s only a matter of time before they get all of your personal information, including your credit card information. It’s very important to keep a really good antivirus software on your computer to ward off anyone trying to install spyware. That’s really the only thing you can do to avoid this scam.
With all the high-tech capabilities for stealing someone’s information we’ve talked about so far, there are some old-fashioned people who will literally dumpster dive for your information. They will go through trash cans, dumpsters outside of businesses, and anywhere else they think they can find credit card information that has been discarded. This is why it is always a good idea to shred credit card receipts, statements, offers, and anything else that has to do with your identity or your financial records. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and some people are desperate for your information.
It’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on your credit card statements each month. If you see that you have activity on there that you did not initiate, it’s time to go into recovery mode. If you keep a close check on all your accounts, you can likely head off a problem before it becomes a disaster. As you can see, some people will stop at nothing to get what they want, and you don’t want to be caught in the crossfire.