How to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud – and Where You Are Most at Risk - Latest Global News

How to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud – and Where You Are Most at Risk

Carrying plastic can be much more convenient than cash. Additionally, you can earn airline miles, points, or cashback rewards by using a credit card for your purchases.

However, credit card payments also involve risks. The Federal Trade Commission received over 101,000 reports of credit card theft or fraud in 2023, a 35% increase from 2021.

Use this guide to take steps to protect yourself, leverage new technology to protect against theft and fraud, and stay vigilant when you’re most at risk.

Your credit card has numerous security features to protect your information during transactions. Always make sure you use the tools and technology available to you and check regularly for any unusual activity.

  • Set up fraud alerts: Most card issuers allow you to set up alerts to receive emails or text messages when suspicious charges are made. If your data is stolen, these alerts allow you to take quick action.

  • Use contactless or mobile payments: Contactless and mobile payments allow you to use your card without having to physically hand it over or swipe it, keeping your information more secure. Additionally, these transactions rely on one-time codes to complete the purchase, rather than your account details – further increasing the protection of your data.

  • Check your statements: Check your credit card statements regularly (at least once a month) and notify your credit card company if you notice any unauthorized transactions. The FTC states that by law you are not responsible for unauthorized credit card transactions valued at more than $50 (although most card issuers offer liability-free protection against these fees).

Card issuers and networks are constantly introducing new security measures. Visa recently announced new services that will soon help cardholders conduct credit card transactions more securely. The updates are scheduled to roll out later this year and include:

Advanced tap-to-pay options

Instead of manually entering your card number when shopping online, adding cards to apps, and making person-to-person payments, you can simply tap your card to your device instead.

Not only do these new features make it easier to manage your credit card digitally, but contactless payments also leverage tokenization, which generates a code for the transaction instead of using your real card number. This provides further protection against potential fraudsters.

Payment passport key biometrics

Just as you use your fingerprint or facial recognition to log in to your phone, you can use similar biometric data when shopping online – without the risk of stolen account passwords.

You can protect yourself now and in the future by learning about your card’s latest features and any new security options available through your banking app or mobile wallet. Staying informed will help you stay safe when making any type of purchase.

Here you can find more information about the different risks of some common transactions:

Many credit cards offer valuable rewards for purchases at restaurants, bars or through take-out services such as UberEats or DoorDash. For example:

American Express® Gold Card: Amex Gold card members earn four Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at restaurants (see rates and fees).

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Cardholders receive 3% cash back on meals.

DoorDash Rewards Mastercard®: The DoorDash Rewards Mastercard allows cardholders to earn 4% cash back on DoorDash or Caviar orders.

However, paying your bill at a restaurant typically requires you to hand a credit card to your waiter – thereby giving someone the opportunity to copy your card details and use them for unauthorized transactions.

Instead, use cash, mobile payments, or self-payment when available to avoid credit card theft. And always keep an eye on your credit card statements after your stay to make sure there are no unexpected purchases.

Many companies have their own ATMs from which customers can easily withdraw cash. But ATMs not operated by banks are not always safe. They are vulnerable to skimming – that is, criminals installing devices that collect user data. They can then use this data to create fake cards and conduct unauthorized transactions.

Try to only use ATMs at major banks and those in brightly lit, public places monitored by security cameras. The FBI has a helpful visual resource showing what you should look for when using an ATM outside of a bank.

Other tips include:

  • Check ATMs, point-of-sale terminals and other card readers before using your card. If anything falls off – loose or damaged components – do not use it.

  • Check the keypad before entering your PIN to make sure it’s not a skimmer. The FBI recommends pulling on the edges of the keyboard to see if anything is loose or coming off.

  • When entering your PIN, cover the keypad to avoid recording by hidden cameras.

  • Use debit and credit cards with chip technology instead of a magnetic stripe. According to the FBI, there are fewer skimmers in the US who can steal your data via chip.

Like ATMs, gas pumps are also a common target for fraudsters. They can install skimming devices that can copy your information and later use it to make fraudulent purchases.

If you need to use your credit card at a gas station, the FBI recommends choosing a well-lit location. When using the pump, look for signs of tampering. Many gas stations put security tape around the cash register; If the tape is torn, it has likely been tampered with by scammers.

If you’re not sure if a gas pump is safe and you don’t have enough gas to get to another gas station, take your card inside to pay directly to the attendant instead of swiping your card at the pump.

Not all online retailer websites are encrypted or secure. Some look like legitimate websites but use phishing to collect customer information such as passwords or credit card numbers.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), “Scammers often create fake websites that are so similar to popular retailers’ websites that they easily trick consumers into providing payment information.” The scammers steal your credit card information and money, but you receive your purchase never. The FDIC warns that scammers are also developing fake apps designed to infect your phone with malware, steal your personal information, and even lock you out of your device and hold it for ransom.

Even large retailers are not immune to data breaches. Therefore, it is recommended to use virtual card numbers instead of the actual number of your card. Many credit card companies – including American Express, Capital One and Citi – offer virtual cards. These are unique digital credit card numbers that you can generate for an online purchase, protecting your real credit card information from theft.

If you come across a phishing website or app disguised as a legitimate company, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps – such as Apple Pay or Cash App – are becoming increasingly popular for sending money to friends and family and paying for goods or services. However, the Federal Communications Commission notes: “Unlike traditional banks and credit cards, payment app services often do not have the same protections against fraud.”

In other words, once the money is sent, it’s probably gone.

Only send payments to people you know and trust. The FTC specifically warns consumers not to send or receive a P2P payment from someone they don’t know. However, if you ever have no other choice, choose a P2P app that protects you from unscrupulous sellers by allowing you to send payments as a business transaction rather than a personal transaction.

In addition to reporting suspected scammers to the FTC, you can also report scams directly to P2P companies:

This article was edited by Rebecca McCracken


Editorial Disclosure: The information in this article has not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. Financial product details, including card rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication. Any products or services offered are without warranty. Current information can be found on the bank’s website. This website does not contain all currently available offers. The credit rating alone does not guarantee approval for a financial product.

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