Credit card security: Fraudulent scams to look out for

These days, many people rely on credit cards to make significant purchases. Electronic payments are quick and simple, but you must protect your account from fraudulent activity. There are many scams out there designed to steal your details and money, so here are a few to look out for.

Card not present fraud

Believe it or not, your card doesn’t have to be physically stolen for criminal activity to take place. That’s right, crooks can access confidential information from receipts and use it to buy high value items over the internet or on the phone. This is called card not present fraud and can leave a big dent in your bank balance. Fortunately, the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency is one the case and recently teamed up with the FBI and US Department of Justice to shut down over 30 websites selling stolen card details.

To protect yourself: Always dispose of personal details carefully (preferably by shredding) and never throw receipts into a public bin. If you do hold onto them, keep all paperwork in a safe place.

Cash machine (ATM) fraud

According to the UK Cards Association there are three main ways in which cards and card details are stolen at cash machines. Firstly, a trapping device is used to retain the card inside the cash machine. The criminal then offers to help and encourages the victim to retype their PIN. When they give up and walk away, the thief releases the card and reuses it at a late date. Secondly, a skimming device is used to copy electronic details and transfer them onto a fake card. The PIN is stolen using a secret camera. Thirdly, criminals shoulder surf and watch people typing in their PIN. They then steal the card using distraction techniques.

To protect yourself: Cash machines often contain a picture of what they should look like. Use this for reference and go somewhere else if there are signs of interference.

Counterfeit fraud

Some criminals manufacture fake credit cards. The details of genuine cards are then duplicated onto the counterfeit card via the magnetic stripe. They then enter circulation making it very hard for shop owners and sales assistants to spot if anything’s wrong. Cash machine fraud tends to fuel this kind of activity, as personal details can be easily stolen. Luckily, this type of fraud has dropped by 79 per cent over the past couple of years (as reported by the UK Cards Association), thanks to Chip and PIN technology and sophisticated fraud protection software.

To protect yourself: While counterfeit fraud appears to be decreasing, you must always apply for a credit card from a reputable banking group. If you work in a store, always double check with other staff members or contact the police, if you suspect anything suspicious.

A wallet wouldn’t be complete without a low interest credit card, but try to protect your privacy and banking details whenever possible.

 

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