Ever since the good people at Diner’s Club had the idea to let people buy their stuff on credit, enterprising criminals have been looking for a way to take your hard-earned money. As the world becomes more and more technologically advanced, the ways in which these thieves attempt to sneak some of your cash have become increasingly innovative. If you’re the kind of person who likes to rely on your credit card when you absolutely need it — and let’s be honest, who isn’t? — then you’ll need to read through these common credit card scams currently being perpetrated around the world.
1. The Ever Popular Skimmer
One of the more common means with which criminals acquire your credit card information is with the use of devices called “skimmers.” These little contraptions affix to ATMs in secretive ways you’d never notice unless you were specifically looking for them. When you swipe your credit card or debit card just like you normally would, the skimmer reads your information and sends it on to whomever set up the device in the first place. Some scammers will even set up cameras alongside their skimmer in order to capture victim’s button presses, as well. More often than not, credit card skimmers can be found in gas stations.
2. Beware False Jury Duty Claims
In this scam, the perpetrator will call their victim and claim that the victim has missed an assigned jury duty. As a result, a bench warrant has been put out for their arrest. The worried individual will proceed to do whatever they can to get out of the trouble, giving the caller a lot of personal information — including credit card numbers. This scam has been extremely popular in 2017, especially in Colorado, where several area seniors have fallen victim to this easily avoidable crime.
3. There’s No Such Thing as Free Wi-Fi
In today’s society, it can be really tempting to log in to a free Wi-Fi network whenever and wherever it is on offer. After, mobile just isn’t fast enough for me to search reddit efficiently. Beware, though, because some criminals will set up free Wi-Fi hotspots and wait for people to log in; once your phone or laptop is connected, they are both vulnerable to attack.
4. Charge it to a Fake Person
In recent years, innovative criminals have resorted to creating entire fake identities — even going so far as to create shell corporations that could lend legitimacy to these face people’s credit history. Armed with exemplary credit scores, these scammers purchase credit cards and run up huge tabs before the credit card company goes looking for the bill, only to discover that they’re hunting a ghost. In early 2017, two Jersey City jewelry store owners were sentenced after using this technique to steal somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million before they were apprehended.
5. Your Chip Card Is Working Just Fine
Some scammers will call their customers and claim that their brand, new chip card is defective. Or the scammer will claim to be the victim’s bank and say that it’s time to receive their new chip card. Either way, the result is the same: the scammer asks for the victim’s personal information in order to get the ball rolling, only to turn around and use that personal info to run up huge credit charges. Chip cards are also vulnerable to more conventional skimming attacks; in fact, in 2016, the number of compromised ATMs in the US rose 70 percent.
6. Beware the Offer of Better Credit Card Deals
Some scammers will call their victims and pose as executives working for the credit card company itself. They’ll offer to give you a better interest rate or they’ll offer to help ease your debt payments, and then they’ll ask you for your personal information to finalize the details and get everything all set up for you. It’s relatively common knowledge that you should never, ever give out any personal information to anyone on the phone, even if they claim to be from an official source. No credit card company is going to actually call and solicit private information from you over the phone or via email. You’ll always have to call in or login to the site and enter the info of your own accord.
7. Be Especially Careful in These Seven States
Nevada, Colorado, Maryland, New Hampshire, Alaska, Washington, and Oregon report the highest instances of credit card fraud in the United States. As a result, it’s likely a good idea to be extra vigilant when you’re in these areas. If you’re hoping to avoid a skimmer hiding at an ATM, just jiggle the card reader before you swipe. If it’s loose, you might consider moving on to another location, because it might mean that a scammer has placed some kind of skimming device in the ATM.
8. Beware the In-House Scammer
In several instances, authorities have discovered that service industry personnel like waiters will double scan credit cards, once to apply your meal charges and once into a secret scanner they’ve brought that can store your credit information for future use. Unfortunately, this one is generally tough to avoid, since it is very commonplace to give your card to an employee in a restaurant and allow them to carry it out of sight.
9. Companies Aren’t Immune, Either
Here’s a fun thought: even if you manage to avoid all of the previous scams, your credit information may still not be entirely safe from theft. The most daring criminals don’t attack individuals directly; they hit entire companies with cyberattacks that can compromise millions of numbers in any one go. More than one major company, including Apple, Target, Sony, and more, have been the victim of attacks that have compromised the personal information of their users. Take, for instance, the attack on TJ Maxx in 2006 that exposed more than 94 million customer credit cards. The person responsible, Albert Gonzalez, was leading a 12-person ring of hackers. They’d raised more than a billion dollars before being apprehended.