No one wants to be the victim of credit card fraud. Aside from the stolen money you may never recover, fraud victims can face an enormous hassle. That hassle involves the closing of accounts, putting a fraud alert on your credit, and a huge ding on your credit history, which can be difficult to fix.
When we’re talking about credit card fraud, everyone’s pointing fingers at everyone else.
Consumers tend to blame the credit card issuer, but the vulnerability usually lies with the point-of-sale terminal. Tampering with a credit card reader takes just a few minutes with an inexpensive device that’s available on Amazon. In addition, there are lots of other ways someone can skim your information, none of which point to a security deficiency with your credit union or credit card company.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent and recognize credit card fraud before it happens. Read on for all you need to know about credit card fraud in five lists of fives.
Five ways your card can be compromised
1. A thief steals it from your wallet.
The old-fashioned pickpocket is still a very real threat. Invest in a secure wallet and/or purse and always keep your card inside.
2. A restaurant or bar server skims it.
When you hand over your card to a dishonest server at the end of a meal, you give them a few minutes to skim your card while it’s in their possession.
3. You use a compromised terminal.
Scammers can tamper with and rewire payment terminals to transmit your information to them. This is especially common in pay-at-the-pump gas stations.
4. An online breach puts your information on the black market.
After a company you use suffers a breach, your personal information may be up for sale on the dark web.
5. Someone has hacked your computer.
Once a scammer gets inside your computer, they have full access to all of your sensitive data.
Five signs a terminal’s been compromised
1. The security seal is broken.
Many gas stations have joined the war against credit card fraud by placing a security label across the pump. When the pump is safe to use, the label has a red, blue or black background. When it’s been breached, the words “Void Open” will appear in white.
2. The card reader is too big for the machine.
The card reader is created to fit perfectly on top of the machine. If it protrudes past it, it’s likely been tampered with.
3. The PIN pad looks newer than the rest of the machine.
The entire machine should be in a similar condition.
4. The PIN pad looks raised.
If the PIN pad looks abnormally high compared to the rest of the machine, the card reader may have been fitted with a new PIN pad that will record your keystrokes.
5. The credit card reader is not secured in place.
If parts of the payment terminal are loose, it’s likely been compromised.
Five times you’re at high risk for credit card fraud
1. You lost your card.
If you misplaced your card – even if you eventually got it back – there’s a chance your information has been skimmed.
2. You’re visiting an unfamiliar area.
When patronizing a business in an unfamiliar neighborhood, you don’t know whom you can trust.
3. You use a company with a data breach.
If you frequent a compromised business, carefully monitor your credit for suspicious activity.
4. You shared your information online with an unverifiable contact.
If you’ve willingly or unwillingly shared sensitive information online and you’re not certain of the contact’s authenticity, you’ve likely been a fraud victim.
5. You downloaded something from an unrecognizable source.
Have you accidentally downloaded an attachment from an unknown source? Then your computer is likely compromised and you’re at risk for credit card fraud.
Five ways to protect yourself against credit card fraud
1. Check all card readers for signs of tampering before paying.
2. Never share your credit card information online unless you’re absolutely sure the website you’re using is authentic and the company behind it is trustworthy.
3. Check your monthly credit card statements for suspicious activity and review your credit reports on a frequent basis.
4. Use cash when patronizing a business that’s in an unfamiliar area.
5. Don’t download any attachments from unknown sources.
Five steps to take if you have a compromised credit card
1. Lock the compromised account.
Dispute any fraudulent charges on your compromised accounts and ask to have them locked or completely shut down.
2. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
3. Consider a credit freeze.
This will make it impossible for the scammer to open a line of credit in your name.
4. Alert the FTC.
Visit identitytheft.gov to report the crime.
5. Open new accounts.
Begin restoring your credit with new accounts and lines of credit.
At United Texas Credit Union, we’ve always got your back! Call, click, or stop by today to ask about steps you can take to protect your information from getting hacked.
Your Turn: Have you ever been a victim of credit card fraud? Share your story with us in the comments.
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