As we ever-increasingly use plastic for our purchases, there is an equivalent rise in the danger of someone stealing our card or our number. Keeping your card safe at all times from swipers, readers, skimmers and hidden cameras is an ever increasing challenge.
Sophisticated schemes seem to develop daily. One brazen fraudster was even bold enough to pose as a bank fraud investigator and requested that unsuspecting card holders put their card, which had been flagged for fraudulent use, in an envelope with their PIN number and a courier would be by to pick it up. It is amazing that people followed these instructions.
Other techniques such as ‘shoulder surfing’ have keen eyed fraudsters using distractions and surveillance equipment to get card information. Skimming involves the perpetrator bribing restaurant or retail employees to double swipe the card on a portable machine that records information. The accomplice gets paid for every card they re-skim.
Internet Card Use
Online shopping has seen a rise in the last few years and with it is the use of credit cards for online purchases. Using your card online for internet based transactions is relatively safe because you, the card holder, are the only one involved in the transaction.
Stolen wallets and purses are still the most commonly used methods of fraudulently acquiring credit card information, not online transactions. When using credit cards online, however, make sure that the retailer uses a secure transaction page (displays a yellow lock) to complete your purchase.
Safely using your card online is more about your computer security than the sites you do business with. Keeping your computer free of viruses is the best way to ensure that fraudsters aren’t stealing your protected keystrokes.
Take the following precautions to prevent being victimized:
• Keep your personal information, just that, personal. When someone, you are not familiar with calls it is best to politely thank the caller and hang up. Don’t give any personal information over the phone. It may be the bank but it may also be the fraudster.
• If someone calls you and asks for information, call the number on the back of the card. Often banks legitimately call to flag seemingly fraudulent purchases. But how can you be sure? Most cards have a customer service number on the back. When you call the number this ensures you are certain to get a bank representative. Customer service would know if there are any suspicious activities on your card.
• If the call was a fraud, then report it immediately to the bank and ask them to issue a new card and cancel the other one. Filling out a credit card fraud report is one of the things the card service representative can help you with.
• Invest in a computer system virus scanner if you do on-line purchases and if you notice that your computer is sluggish and not responsive be wary that you may be a target for a silent “keylogger” that records your keystrokes. These hidden programs are getting sophisticated and fraudsters can literally lift your passwords from the keystrokes you have typed.
• Each time you use any card reader or swipe pad check the keypad to see if there is any unusual add-ons. Look for mirrors, cameras or something that may have been added or removed. If it appears to have been broken or suspect report it.
Card companies have developed a good system for reporting frauds and help shield their customers from financial losses. Take responsible action to help prevent credit card fraud.