Credit Card Fraud Explained


What is credit card fraud?

Credit card fraud is an umbrella term to refer to fraud committed using credit or debit cards. Credit card fraud can both be authorized and unauthorized. In the former case, account holders themselves process a payment to an account that belongs to a cybercriminal without realizing it. Unauthorized credit card fraud involves criminals carrying out transactions without authorization from the account holder.

Credit card fraud can cause a lot of problems for victims as unauthorized purchases can be made. If victims do not notice that their credit cards or card details have been stolen, they may suffer significant financial loss. Credit card fraud is not always preventable but you can protect yourself to some extent.

How you can avoid credit card fraud

  • Report a stolen card immediately after you notice you no longer have it.

If you notice that you no longer are in possession of your payment card, you need to contact your bank immediately. If you delay reporting it, criminals may try to make a purchase using your card. While many banks and card providers refund fraudulent charges, it adds additional stress and hassle.

  • Consider having a separate card for online purchases.

Having a separate payment card with only the necessary funds for online purchases may be a good idea. Payment card details are leaked all the time by online services at no fault of the cardholders so it’s more than likely that yours will be leaked at some point. If you have a separate card and only keep the money necessary for a purchase on it, you would not need to worry about unauthorized transactions from your account even if your card details were stolen/leaked.

  • Research online stores before making a purchase.

Before making a purchase from an unfamiliar online store, always make sure the store is legitimate. Read the reviews but be skeptical of 5-star ratings with no comments, and check social media pages. We also recommend avoiding putting in your payment card details on sites with low security. Check for the padlock logo in the URL bar as it shows that the site has better security and your data will be safer.

  • Do not let your payment card out of your sight.

Card skimming is a very common crime in some parts of the world and it involves criminals using a device known as a skimmer to steal card numbers. Having physical access to the card is necessary for criminals to be able to skim it. Card skimming is why you should never let your card out of your sight. For example, if you’re trying to pay at a restaurant and the waiting staff tries to take your card out of your sight, insist on coming with them or ask them to bring the card reader to you.

Criminals also install skimming devices in ATMs and gas pumps in order to skim cards and get PINs. If card skimming is common where you live, avoid using ATMs with no security cameras around and check the card reader, as well as the keypad when using an ATM. It’s enough to slightly tug on them as skimming devices usually come off quite easily. If you do find a skimming device when using an ATM, report it to the operator.

  • Never provide payment information to unsolicited callers over the phone.

Be very careful about providing any kind of personal or payment information over the phone, especially when the caller makes unsolicited contact. Scammers often pretend to be government, law enforcement, and bank employees to trick victims into revealing sensitive information. Keep in mind that you should never reveal your login credentials, passwords, or payment card details to anyone, especially over the phone. Sensitive information should only be known to you.

  • Review your card statements regularly to catch any unauthorized transactions.

Checking your bank account statements at least once a month should become a habit. Look for any transactions you do not recognize and if there is something suspicious, contact your bank immediately.

  • Secure your computer with anti-malware software.

Payment card details can often be stolen by malware on a computer. It’s highly recommended to have anti-malware software installed on a computer in order to catch malware infections in time.

  • Learn to recognize phishing attempts.

In many cases, card details are stolen using phishing. Cybercriminals use various techniques to trick victims into revealing their payment card details themselves without them even noticing. For example, they may pretend to be Netflix, send an email to a victim claiming that there is a problem with the payment, and ask users to put in their payment card details to supposedly process the payment again. However, instead of paying for Netlfix, victims reveal their card details to cybercriminals.

While there is a huge variety of phishing scams, we recommend becoming familiar with at least the most common ones. Knowing the signs of a phishing attempt can help avoid becoming a victim and save you a lot of hassle.

  • Do no write down your card PINs.

Do not write down your credit card PINs, and if you do, at least do not keep them in your wallet or anywhere near your card.

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