Buying things online has never been easier. Paying for things online has never been easier. Chances are your full credit card details are already stored on more than one e-commerce website, right? Well let us help you avoid falling victim to credit card fraud.
Click pay, and your package can be delivered to your door ‘same-day’ if you want. Transaction done. It’s that easy. But as hassle-free and as ‘easy’ as commerce has become, so to has falling victim to credit card-related crime. According to a report by Nilson it is estimated that credit card fraud amounted to US$24.71 billion in 2016. A 12% increase from the previous year. And an average of 46% of Americans have been victims of credit card fraud in the past 5 years.
Credit card related crime is on the rise globally; you only have to search ‘credit card fraud’ online and you’ll find pages and pages of stats and stories about various methods and victims.
Case in point; just this month South Africa’s News 24 published an article that reports that credit card fraud in South Africa has grown from 12.2% to 19.47% in the first quarter of 2019 according to the Ombudsman of Banking Services; and that pensioners appear to be the most vulnerable. The scammers obtain credit card information fraudulently and use it to make purchases the credit card holder is unaware of. These were found to have been accomplished through bank rewards programmes, online purchasing, phishing – by accessing sensitive information from the credit cardholder through electronic communications like email – and vishing; a telephonic version of phishing. Among the complaints the ombudsman received the majority were offraudsters posing as a bank representative in order to get information from the clients to authorise transactions.
Researchers from Chinese cybersecurity firm Qihoo 360’s NetLab have revealed details of an ongoing credit card hacking campaign that is currently stealing payment card information of customers visiting more than 105 e-commerce websites.
Researchers found that the attackers have been injecting malicious code into hundreds of online shopping websites. The code in question includes the digital credit card skimming code that when executed on a site, automatically steals payment card information, such as credit card owner name, credit card number, expiration time, CVV information, entered by its customers.
Even celebrities aren’t immune to credit card fraud! Here are a few interesting cases that prove even with the best support staff around can’t protect everyone from a determined criminal…
Will Smith, the actor who starred in movies like “Men In Black” and “Independence Day,” was once a victim of identity theft by a man named Carlos Lomax. Lomax opened up 14 credit cards in Smith’s name and charged $34,000. He was eventually caught, but not before damaging Will Smith’s credit and reputation. Smith recovered, of course, but Lomax hasn’t.
Bill Gates. A Bulgarian college student named Alexey K. hacked Bill Gates’ personal information and opened a credit card in his name. This brash 22-year-old was a known member of a global crime ring involved in producing counterfeit IDs in more than 25 countries. Once caught, authorities were able to put an end to Alexey’s criminal activities and arrest more than 30 people involved in other related crimes since 2004.
How to Identify Credit Card Fraud
The most reliable way of finding credit card fraud before it gets out of hand is to keep a watchful eye on all your accounts and your credit reports.
How Does Fraud Happen? The best way to prevent both credit card fraud and identity theft is to ensure your sensitive information is secured as much as possible. Despite your best efforts, though, there is always the potential for an information breach that leaves you exposed.
Ways To Prevent Credit Card Fraud – Even as prevalent as fraud has become, there are plenty of methods you can use to help protect yourself. Here are some ways to reduce your risk of falling victim to credit card fraud:
- Sign any new cards immediately. By establishing your signature on the card, you make it much more difficult for someone else to erase or cover your signature and forge it in their own handwriting if the card is ever lost or stolen.
- After you hand your card over to pay, keep it in view when you can.
- Don’t sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any space above the total amount (including any tip amounts) if you do not intend to authorise additional charges on your card.
- Void all carbon copies and incorrect receipts.
- Save all receipts in a safe place.
- Open your billing statements as soon as you get them, and reconcile your card accounts every month the same way you would reconcile your checking account.
- Report any suspicious activity on your card immediately.
- Never lend your credit card to anyone.
- Always destroy receipts by using a shredder or cutting them into small pieces.
- Never leave receipts lying around.
- Never put your card number on a postcard, the outside of envelopes, or in a photo online.
- Do not give out your card number over the phone unless you initiated the transaction and you know the company is reputable.
You can also see our post on staying Cyber Safe at home: Your home is your castle – is it time to raise your cyber drawbridge?
- Only use your card for purchases on websites you trust.
- Do not click links in emails, especially those from any company or individual you don’t recognise.
- Never enter your card information (or National Insurance / social security number, etc.) in response to an email or via an emailed link. Always go directly to the company’s site instead by typing the address yourself.
- When entering card information, check the page you’re on to make sure it’s secure (e.g., starts with https:// or includes a lock symbol in your browser bar).
- Use a credit card (not a debit card) to limit your liability for any fraud that may occur.
- See if your card issuer offers a “disposable” or one-time use card number, which still links to your account but expires after one use (or is only good for use at a single merchant).
- Do not enter personal information (including credit card numbers) if you’re on a public computer or public Wi-Fi network.
- Keep your anti-virus software up to date to prevent hacking.
- Watch your transaction history — make sure transactions match the amounts on your receipts, and look out for anything you don’t recognise.
The risk of credit card fraud can increase when you use your card in unfamiliar environments. When you’re traveling, cultural and language barriers create fertile grounds where fraudsters can operate. Knowing what to look out for, how to stay protected, and what to do in case you fall victim to such attempts is the best form of defense when traveling:
- For starters, make sure to notify your card company when you’ll be traveling or changing residences. If you don’t, the company might flag a charge in an unfamiliar location, causing you to lose access to your account.
- Once you’re traveling, consider using a hidden pouch you can wear inside your clothes. Instead of carrying a large purse or pocketbook, these carriers can offer a cheap solution for storing your cards and other valuables safely.
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