More Vigilance Needed As Feds Bust Credit Card Identity Theft Ring
Have you ever gone shopping at a supermarket, paid with a credit card, and then forgotten to secure your copy of the credit card receipt? Are you aware that these receipts have your credit card number printed for anyone to see (or even use)? And if you’ve signed these receipts, your signature is also right there, available for anybody to copy or forge. This scenario can lead to the simplest form of credit card identity theft or credit card fraud. With these bits of information about you and your card, some unscrupulous people or person can make purchases either via phone or internet just by using your credit card number. In most cases, all they need to search is your mailing address, which is easily found in a phone book or on the internet. You will not even know it until your billing statement arrives at your doorstep.
Adjunct to identity theft, credit card fraud is a wide-ranging term for theft or fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism. As one of the rising forms of fraud for years, it usually takes place when a credit card is lost or stolen. Unusual charges are present on your billing statement, you get calls or letters about things you didn’t buy, or your credit card company contacts you to ask about a charge. It involves unauthorized taking of another’s credit card information for the purpose of charging purchases to the victim’s account or removing and transferring funds from it.
Skimming is the most popular form of credit card fraud. This can happen when devices are installed on ATM machines, gasoline pumps. It also happens at point of sale or credit card machines when business’ employees illicitly access the credit card information of the customers. They will either sell the card information or use them for their own. With the technological advances that we have now, new avenues for credit card fraud have opened. The attacker need not have physical access of the victim’s credit card, rather, he will just hack a credit card database and compromise the security of all other cards as well.
Recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had cracked down a crime ring situated across the US alleged to have stolen millions of dollars. Warrants were executed in four States, the arrests made involved more than 7, 000 fraudulent identities, thousands of credit cards, and over $200 million worth of fraudulent transactions. It was reported that it is one of the largest cases of widespread credit card fraud across the US.
Credit card identity theft is one of those financial problems that are time consuming to take care of and there are out of pocket expenses. If not taken care of though it can cost even more in terms of credit damage since better credit brings lower interest rates, insurance premiums, etc. You can help yourself avoid credit card identity theft by following these simple steps when using your credit card:
- Always use common sense- it is the best rule of thumb.
- Be vigilant when using your credit card. Never leave it out of your sight and make sure you get it back as quickly as possible.
- Be careful to whom you give your card. If possible, never lend your credit card to anyone.
- Never give out your credit card number over the phone or via online unless you know that the one at the end of the line is reputable.
- Ignore phishing scams or emails that request your credit card information or emails or websites asking you to verify your personal information.
- Secure your PIN elsewhere. Never write your PIN on your credit card.
- Always secure your credit card receipts every time you use it for a purchase.
- Never leave your credit card or receipts lying around. If possible, shred or burn receipts that contain your credit card information.
- When using your credit card in public, always shield your credit card number so that people around you cannot copy or capture your number using a camera or a cellular phone.
- Never sign a blank credit card receipt.
- Change your PIN and your login passwords regularly- monthly, at the minimum.
- In any event that you find some unusual charges on your billing statement, contact your credit card company promptly.
- When making an online purchase using a public internet cafe, or library, always clear your browsing history, including your login details.
- If by chance you have changed your address, notify your credit card company that you have moved.
- In the event you lose your credit card, contact your credit card issuer immediately.
Safety measures are important every time you give out any confidential information, including your credit card number, be it online, over the phone, or anywhere else. Credit card fraud can cause serious personal and financial breakdown. That is why; precautionary actions must be taken into consideration every time you use your credit card. In the event that you notice fraud on your account, act quickly. Knowing what to do when fraud attacks is just part of the test. Quick action can limit the loss and will make restoring your record easier. Credit card fraud can be caught earlier by regularly monitoring your credit report. If you don’t, and your information is compromised, then the shopping extravaganza continues- using your identity.
Early detection is always crucial when it comes to credit card identity theft. The quicker you find out about the theft incidence, the sooner you can take countermeasures to avoid further damage. Learn to recognize the signs of credit card identity theft so you can respond promptly and quickly.
Do you want to avoid credit card identity theft? Have you ever been in a situation when your credit card information was compromised? Share your thoughts in the comments below.