Is your credit card being scammed?

The number of ways scammers can steal your credit card details seems to increase each week.

Crafty crims can con you of your details over the phone, online, by email or by text message. They can even do it the old-fashioned way by picking your pocket or stealing from your bag. Whichever way cyber criminals finagle or phish for your details, there are some warning signs that can help you work out if they are scamming your card.

These are a few common ways that scammers can get your credit card details:

  • pretending to be your bank, the tax office or some another entity and deceiving you into giving them your credit card number and security code
  • using spyware on your computer to learn your internet habits and online shopping activities
  • physically stealing your credit card
  • using ATM card skimmers
  • accessing your information from unsecured websites
  • using RFID readers.

When scammers have your credit card details, there’s pretty much nothing stopping them from using the card to make online purchases. If they’ve somehow learned your PIN they can withdraw cash from ATMs using a clone of your credit card, which they do by copying your card details onto the magnetic strip of another card.

How do you know if your card is being scammed?
If you’ve mistakenly given someone you don’t trust your credit card details, or you’ve misplaced a wallet or bag that contains your credit card, the first and most obvious way step is to contact your bank and ask for a credit card statement. You may also be able to do this online. Simply search for any purchases you didn’t make.

There are also ways to protect yourself from being scammed. These include:

  • check your bank account statements regularly, if you ahve online access, consider doing this daily
  • never give your personal, credit card or account details to anyone, unless you’ve made the call or enquiry yourself and know exactly to whom you are talking
  • if a company calls you and asks for personal information, check its details in a phone book or independent online source to see if it’s legitimate
  • do not give your PIN to anyone, not even your bank
  • create secure passwords that only you can remember
  • be cautious when using public computers or wifi – try not to use them for online banking or other purchases
  • install anti-virus software on your computer and always keep it up to date
  • when installing apps on your phone, ensure they are from a trusted source

If you think you’ve been scammed, you should:

  • immediately call your bank or credit card privider to report it. This will make it easier for you to get your money back later – although there are no guarantees
  • file a police report at your local station
  • contact a credit reporting agency and check whether your name and details have been used to borrow money or incur further debt via other means
  • tell as many people as you can about the nature of the scam. That way everyone can be informed and hopefully not fall for the same tricks.

Read more about credit card scams at SCAMwatch.

Related articles:
Saving Christina from a scam
Little Black Book of Scams
Should we have a cyber-militia to help fight cyber crime?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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