Here’s What You Should Do if You’re a Victim of a Credit Card Scam
Getting scammed is frustrating and stressful. Unfortunately, around one in three credit or debit card holders has been a victim of card fraud more than once in their lives.
With people having to stay home and shop for their essentials online due to the pandemic, those numbers may have even grown. The Federal Trade Commission reported that credit card fraud rose by 44% from 2019 to 2020.
If you had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of a scam, continue reading below to know how these happen, what to do, and tips on avoiding credit card scams in the future.
How Credit Card Scams Happen
Getting scammed can be disorientating. You're left to wonder how it happened. Scammers have devised various ways to deceive people into providing their credit card information. Below are a few of their methods.
Scammers send emails disguised as legitimate to ask people for their personal information. Typically, they pretend to be the victim's bank, notifying them of suspicious activity on their account. Then, they ask the victim for their bank account details to "confirm" and "look into" the situation.
Fraudsters embed malicious software into a website's code that automatically downloads itself onto your computer undetected when you visit the page. These are called "drive-by downloads" since you don't have to press anything to start the download. This malicious software, such as pop-up ads, spyware, or keyloggers, will infect your computer and steal your data, including credit card information, if saved on your web browser.
3. Hacking the network
Public networks, such as those people connect to when they're in a café or hotel, are spaces that scammers can connect to and steal personal information from. Alternatively, scammers may use their devices as a public hotspot with an unsuspicious name. Once people connect, they might be asked to enter their credit card details to use to network, making it easy for a scammer to collect the information.
What to Do If You Were Scammed
The most important part of handling the situation is to remain calm. Many people have fallen victim to a scam, but they've also managed to get themselves out of it. Follow the steps below to help secure your credit card.
1. Contact your bank
Call your credit card issuer as soon as you discover that your card was used without your knowledge. There should be a toll-free number on the back of the card, which you can call.
Alternatively, if your physical card was stolen, visit your card issuer's website and reach them through email. You should receive a response quickly, depending on the credit card issuer.
2. Freeze your card
Freezing your card will prevent it from being used. There are no penalties or fees for freezing your card, and you can unfreeze it anytime. Additionally, you may also request to freeze your credit report. When you do this, lenders won't be able to review your credit application, preventing fraudsters from opening a new credit card account using your personal information.
3. Change your passwords or PINs
If you accidentally gave personal information to a scammer, securing your accounts as soon as possible is vital. You shouldn't just change the password and PIN of the online account tied to your credit card, but all other accounts, too.
When changing your password, ensure it's entirely different and stronger. A strong password typically consists of 12 characters using capital letters, numbers, and symbols. Consider using a passphrase that you can easily remember but isn't common. This lengthens your password, making it even more secure.
Keeping Your Credit Card Secure
When it comes to getting scammed, the best solution is prevention. Follow the tips below about avoiding credit card scams and ensuring that it never happens to you again.
1. Enhance the security of your online accounts
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is another layer of security you can add to your online accounts. Besides a password, anyone who wants to access your online account, including yourself, will be required to provide additional credentials. These can be a security key, biometric data such as your fingerprint, or a passcode from an authentication app.
2. Monitor your bills carefully
This is one of the most effective ways to detect if you were scammed and to ensure your credit card's safety and security. Whenever you receive your credit card bill, go through each item carefully. If a transaction or purchase seems suspicious to you, don't hesitate to contact your credit card issuer to double-check it.
3. Be vigilant when handling your credit card
Practice more caution when giving out your credit card information to sellers online. Ensure that the online store you're shopping at is reputable and trustworthy. Do your research to learn more about whom you're giving your personal information to, read reviews, and talk to people you know who have shopped in the same store.
4. Familiarize yourself with other scams
Knowing how other scams work helps you understand what you should avoid.
Always double-check the sender's email address if you receive a promotional email to avoid phishing scams. Reputable companies will typically have their own business domain name. Moreover, be more careful with the links you click while browsing online, especially on websites that look suspicious.
When you're outside and want to connect to the Wi-Fi, always ask the authorized personnel what the correct name and password are. This helps you avoid accidentally connecting to a scammer's network.
Falling for a credit card scam is stressful and infuriating for anyone. That's why it's always essential to understand scammers' methods and how to secure your personal information.
If you become a victim of a credit card scam, remain calm. Reach out to your credit card issuer and credit bureaus immediately to secure your account. Additionally, create new, stronger passwords for all your online accounts to help minimize the damage.
The faster you respond to a scam, the better your chances of getting your credit card back into your hands.
Kylie Ann Martin
Kylie Ann Martin is a freelance content writer. Working for different small and large-scale businesses, Kylie has written various articles about lifestyle, health, tech, and business.
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