Current Credit Card Scams: 5 Key Things You Absolutely Must Do

man having his card stolen online during current credit card scams

Current Credit Card Scams – The Top 5 Ways to Avoid Them

Are you nervous about all of the current credit card scams being reported in the news?  Ever receive a call from your credit card company about fraudulent charges or noticed unidentified charges on your account? It’s a scary deal but even scarier is the fact that there are many schemes nowadays that let thieves steal your money without grabbing the card.

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reported how the first half of 2017 held the most number of data breaches for any half-year period.

man placing fingerprint on security screen

If that’s not alarming enough, the ITRC predicted these breaches will increase by almost 40%. This is no trivial matter.

Credit card use and misuse reflect in your credit score. A low score means it’ll be significantly more expensive to take out loans. If your score is low enough, you can expect an outright rejection when applying for loans.

Hold on, don’t cancel your card! You can protect yourself from many of the current credit card scams out there very effectively.

Read on to discover 5 examples of credit card fraud, so you can keep the grubby hands of thieves away.

#5. A Shredder Is Your Friend

Credit card scams and fraudulent bank information account for 86% of all identity theft in the United States. And even if smartphones and the Internet are universal, not all stolen card data derive the digital way.

What do you we mean by this?

shredded paper

Dumpster-diving leads identity crooks to credit card numbers and other sensitive information. These also include your social security number and medical history.

Think twice before you throw anything containing private information in the trash. This is where a shredder can act like the most worthy bodyguard for you and your personal data.

Credit card bills usually contain your entire card number. Before tossing the hated bill with the rest of the trash, run it through a shredder. Do the same to old and expired cards, as well as any document containing personal information.

To take your safety up a notch, place the shredded paper in varying trash bags. This way, it’ll be more difficult for the crooks to put the shredded pieces back together.

The tenacity of some scammers will surprise you. Don’t even think of underestimating what they’re willing to do to get your data.

#4. Be Aware of Skimming

Have you heard of credit card scams via skimming? This type of scam is one of the most common credit card frauds.  Crooks steal credit card data during a seemingly regular transaction.

They extract your card number and use the data. They can then create a physical copy of your card.

Another way skimmers manipulate stolen data is by using it for transactions that don’t require a physical copy of the card. Online shopping is a perfect example.

Skimming victims might become such when they hand their card to an unscrupulous waiter. Another popular method involves a skimming device, wherein thieves attach the device to payment terminals. Stealing credit card info at gas pumps and ATMs are popular choices.

One way to protect yourself is by upgrading to an EMV card. Rather than swiping the magnetic strip of the typical card, EMV chip cards dip into a slot.

credit card chip reader

And how exactly does this make the transactions safer? EMV cards come with a tiny computer chip, and this produces a unique code for every transaction. The code works only once and it’s a great way to prevent credit card skimming.

This is bad news for hackers. Should someone get access to this unique code and attempt to shop with it, the system will decline the transaction.

Now, don’t assume this is a guaranteed way to fight current credit card scams. Many retailers have yet to install an EMV-enabled terminal. Moreover, online transactions continue to be just as risky including stealing credit card info wirelessly.

Despite this, no matter how imperfect, the added security from EMV cards makes it worth your while to upgrade.

#3. Beware of Phishing Season

Phishing scams have been around for ages. Unfortunately, they continue to be one of the most effective and dangerous credit card scams.

Phishing involves fooling people into providing their personal data, such as credit card numbers and passwords. It can happen online, by phone, text messaging and even old-fashioned snail mail.

hack spelled out on computer keyboard

The crooks will typically attempt to trick consumers into thinking a trusted entity is asking for personal data. For example, they may create a fake website that looks exactly like your bank’s site.  Phishing attacks of this nature are one of the most widespread internet credit card frauds.

You can avoid phishers by being very cautious when asked for personal data. Never provide your card number via email, no matter how authentic the email appears to be. This also goes for phone calls, text messages and printed letters.

#2. Report Credit Card Scams Immediately

Lost your wallet or credit card? Immediate action to prevent credit card theft will save you from a million headaches.

The faster you report a lost card, the quicker the card will get canceled. A canceled card will immediately get rejected when someone attempts to use it.

We know this, the crooks know this. You can then expect a card thief to use your data as soon as possible before the card issuer cancels it. Don’t waste a second and immediately report the loss or theft.

Reporting the mishap swiftly will protect you from having to shell out money for any criminal transactions. Fighting dubious charges on your credit card will also eat up plenty of precious time.

And, if you’re worried you might have simply misplaced the card, think of the best and worst-case scenario. The worst thing that can happen if you cancel a misplaced card is you’ll have to get a new card – a very easy task.

But should you fail to report in a timely fashion and someone goes to town with your card, the consequences can be very expensive.

#1. Review Credit Card Bills

Make it a habit to review your credit card bills as they come. The reason? An unauthorized transaction is a first and most guaranteed proof you’ve become a victim of one of the many current credit card scams out there.

credit cards in wallet on top of statement

Even if the charge is minuscule, report the questionable charge without delay. This way you can avoid facing a more expensive fraud.

Protect Your Identity and Score

Worried about some of the most high profile current credit card scams or simply want to protect your financial identity? A healthy financial status is tantamount to a high-quality life. If you want to learn more about protecting your identity, improving your credit score and other personal finance topics, we have the perfect and free information for you.

Whether you’re just about to embark on a new life with better financial habits, or you’re seeking to improve what you already know about personal finance, we have articles for you.

Feel free to contact us about personal finance. We’d love to hear from you and help you fight credit card fraud.

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10 Comments

  1. Some golden advice here, that I think everyone on the planet that has a credit card should be aware of.

    I was a victim of the skimming credit card fraud, when I went to purchase gas at the petrol station.

    The scammers waited the next day to process a transaction. Fortunately, I received a SMS and called the bank to have them cancel and reissue me a new card.

    Just shows how quick these things happen.

    I will be sharing this information, with family and friends.

    Thanks for all the help.

    Regards,
    Roopesh

    • Thanks Roopesh.  I’m happy to hear the article was helpful to you.

      That text message warning really helped you out. I recommend that everyone sign up for this service for all of their credit cards.

      Skimming at gas station pumps happens quite often and there is really not much you can do about it other than pay cash at the pump. 

      One way to avoid credit card scams like skimming is to use an EMV credit card with a chip in it. Instead of swiping your card you just insert the card with the chip that produces a unique code each time you use it.

      Many establishments have card readers now, so you have more protection. However, fuel stations are still stuck with the same old technology, which makes your purchases at the pump more vulnerable.

      Either way it’s still a good idea to keep your bank text warning messaging in place just in case.

      Thanks

  2. Patrick,

    It’s horrible that so many scams exist nowadays. I haven’t experienced credit card scams in the ways you described in the post, but I have experienced people who charged my credit card without my authorization.

    It’s much easier nowadays for vendors online to fraudulently charge cards, and this is what happened to me.

    The most recent case of my credit card being fraudulently charged was by a gaming company. My 10-year old likes to play video games.

    He wanted to buy something within a game, so I made him earn some money he could use to buy what he wanted.

    Later, I found the company had charged me $200 within a period of two weeks! I reported the card as you recommend doing.

    It’s unfortunate this is happening so commonly, but I appreciate sites like yours that provide clear education and action steps to prevent credit card scams.

    • Thanks Tiffany,

      Yes it’s horrible.  All of the great innovations available to consumers today are marred by scams and deceit.

      Honest hard working people just want to enjoy the products and services they pay for without having to constantly be worried about credit card scams.

      I recently had to deal with a magazine company that kept charging our credit card account every six months.  We would call the credit card company and have them remove it, as it was unauthorized.

      However every six months it would appear again.  Finally we just called the company (third party) that performed the billing for the magazine and had to threaten them with legal action if they did stop.  They agreed, and so far so good.

      The morale of the story is that you have to be vigilant. Keep an eye on your statements each month and make sure the charges belong to you. 

      If you find something suspicious, report it to the card company.  This is how credit card scammers succeed as folks don’t reconcile their statements and end up paying for something they never received.

      All the best.

  3. You have provided some great information here.

    I think the only time I have been duped and charged for something I did not agree to was being charged for a monthly subscription to a face cream and eye cream.

    Fortunately, the bank was aware of such charges and refused to process them.

    The company finally backed down after three tries.

    I will not be ordering anything free anymore except for the shipping. That’s how they got my card number.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      If you have only been duped once then you are doing a lot better than most people.

      I hear many folks complaining about unauthorized charges from scams on their credit cards all the time.

      That’s why it’s best to only deal with reputable websites and keep an eye on your credit card statements every month to make sure all the charges are yours.

      It’s probably a good idea to check you credit report at least once a year as well. There are so many scams out there today, you have to be vigilant.

      All the best.

  4. I really enjoyed learning about the five different ways of avoiding credit card scams.

    I experienced one involving the use of my credit card number, which I provided to pay for shipping for a free item to start a subscription to a product I did not order.

    Fortunately, my bank knew about the company and refused to process the $90.00 payments. I have learned my lesson, no more free stuff for me.

    • Nice to hear your bank was on top of things.  It saved you a bunch of time and hassles trying to get your money credited back.

      I’d say the two top things to be concerned about is having your identity stolen by skimming or phishing scams.

      These are the most current credit card scams today that are utilized to separate you from your money.

      The best defense is to review your credit card statements monthly and if you find something suspicious report it immediately.

      Not reporting fraud on your account that you are aware of will not help when you submit a claim reimbursement.

  5. Hi Patrick,

    Some great advice here.

    I remember when I lost my purse and went to the bank to report it. However, when I got to the bank, thoughts kept running through my head that if I cancelled my card it would take at least a week to get a new one.

    As I’d only used my card about 10 minutes prior I went back to the store where I used it. Luckily someone had handed in my purse.

    We use contactless cards and after I think, 3 consecutive taps, we have to enter our pin, this is to prevent fraudulent use of the card if it were to be lost.

    I abhor the contactless cards, seems like a great idea, but not to everyone’s liking. Do we have a choice in the kind of cards the bank issues us on a standard account?

    You mentioned upgrading to an EMV card. Can that still be used as a contact less card?

    Also, will there be a charge for this type of card?

    Thanks

    Jacqueline

    • Hi Jacqueline,

      Nice to hear you had a happy ending to your lost purse story. I recently had my debit card eaten by a out of network ATM machine.

      Needless to say, I had to call my bank and have them reissue a new one, which took about a week.  A big hassle, but I survived.

      Contactless cards are just becoming available here in the US and are not widely available yet. Although the trend is headed that way as it takes just a few seconds to wave your card, as opposed inserting a card into a reader.  

      I’ve heard some stories about contactless card “digital pickpockets” where thieves used card readers to extract payments in crowded areas from peoples wallets.

      So, there is some risk there, however having to enter a pin after so many transactions at least provides some security.

      I believe the trend is going away from EMV and to contactless, but you should call your bank to see if they have them and will issue one to you. From my experience, I don’t think there is any additional cost.

      All the best.

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