You've heard stories of financial catastrophe in the news, so how can you prevent credit card fraud from affecting you? A little prevention and research can go a long way toward your safety. By protecting your sensitive information and maintaining good habits, you can thwart potential criminals from escaping with your hard-earned cash. But first, let's dive into some of the most common methods of credit card fraud that every consumer should know for savvy spending.
Types of Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is an international problem, and the United States experiences the third highest rates of fraud in the entire world! In fact, almost 30 percent of consumers have dealt with this agonizing problem within the last five years. What are the types of fraud that you may encounter?
- Phone or Mail Order: This fraud occurs when you make purchases through either the telephone or through mail order catalogs.
- Online Shopping: Your credit card details may be stolen while making purchases online in an insecure environment or fraudulent site.
- Online Banking: False links through email, text messages, or malware can steal your bank account information.
- Face-to-Face: Your card or PIN number may be stolen and used in a physical store.
As you can see, there are tons of different avenues that thieves use to steal your credit card information. But there are a wide variety of techniques they can use to complicate matters even more.
- Counterfeit Cards: While using a tampered ATM, your magnetic stripe may be copied and used to make counterfeit credit cards.
- ID Theft: Thieves may steal your personal information and open new accounts, like bank services and credit card accounts.
- ATM Tampering: A device is installed onto the card reader which steals your PIN and swallows the card.
Given the countless scams and criminal techniques used, how do consumers protect themselves against credit card fraud in the United States? The first way to counter criminal attacks is to maintain awareness. A trusting consumer is a vulnerable consumer, so be aware of your security risks every time you whip out your card. For example, avoid making purchases over the phone or through email. Make sure your online shopping sites are secure. And even if the site is secure, try to avoid making purchases when you're using public Wi-Fi. Wait to head home to a more secure location to avoid exposing your sensitive information.
What about ATM fraud? Inspect your ATM for anything out of the ordinary before you withdraw money, and make sure no prying eyes are on you. If something feels wrong, go to another machine. And be sure to keep that PIN protected! Shield your information while inputting your number. Your PIN is incredibly valuable, so take the extra precautions for your own security. And finally, don't forget to check those bank statements. If anything strange pops up, let your bank know immediately.