Scammers are always coming up with new ways to scam people – and credit card users are appealing targets.
Being vigilant and on the lookout for scams can help to protect your credit card information from being stolen and fraud committed using your details.
Here a few credit card scams to watch out for and how to avoid them.
Confirming Your Information with Your EMV Card
The credit card industry is moving forwards towards EMV chip-enabled cards. This can help to reduce credit card fraud and is a move that’s been gradually taking place over the past few months.
Your credit card issuer will send out its customers new credit cards gradually, not all at once. This will reduce the chances of their clients being scammed.
So, how does this scam work? The scammers pose as credit card issuers. They email the customer with a warning that they must update their personal information so that they may receive their new EMV chip-enabled credit card.
If you reply to the email with any personal information or sometimes just click on the link, you could be giving the scammer what he needs to take your details and commit fraud.
How to Avoid This
- Remember that the issuer of your credit card will never ask you to update any personal information through an email.
- If your credit card company is issuing out new EMV credit cards, they will do so without any action needed from you as the cardholder.
- If you're wondering when your new card will arrive in the mail, contact the customer service team of your credit card directly. You should find their number on the back of your existing credit card.
- Make a habit out of not clicking on links in emails, even if they look legitimate. Visit your credit card company directly by visiting their website instead.
Interest Rate Reduction Scam
This scam takes advantage of credit cards users who are frustrated at the rate of their credit card interest and want to cut these rates so that they can pay off their balance quicker.
The scam begins by calling you with a pre-recorded voice message. This voice message will inform you that you qualify for a program that can help you decrease your interest rate and pay off your credit card sooner.
All you have to do is pay the required fee, enroll in the program and the company will do the work on your behalf to have your interest rate lowered.
The call may sound like it’s from the company of your credit card, and it may imply that they have your credit card information on file.
As you may have guessed, the scammer will charge your credit card for these services – however, they won’t lower your interest rate. Even if you decline to receive their services, they may charge your card anyway.
How to Avoid This
- Add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry. This will lower the chances of you receiving a call like this. You can add your name and number to this registry by calling 1-888-382-1222.
- If you receive a call with a pre-recorded message that’s similar to the one we’ve described, hang up the phone immediately without saying anything. If you talk to a human on the other end, this may lead to you receiving more calls.
- Do not give out any personal information on a phone call that wasn't initiated by you. Scammers have often received most of your personal information, but not all of it. This phone call intends to get the last piece of the puzzle, which could be your PIN or security code.
- If you think you qualify for a lower interest rate, you can usually get one free of charge by merely asking your credit card company for one.
Possible Fraud on Your Account
Your credit card company may warn you from time to time about fraud on your account to protect you from future charges that are fraudulent. Unfortunately, scammers often use this exact type of phone call to commit the fraud.
You will receive a phone call from someone who claims to be from the fraud department of your credit card issuer. They say that they have observed suspicious activity on your account and need you to verify some personal information for them in order to determine whether your account has been compromised as a result.
Like we mentioned above, scammers may already have some of your personal information, and they'll use this to try and convince you that they're from your credit card company. The primary purpose of their phone call is to get the rest of the information out of you, which is often the security code on the back of your card.
How to Avoid This
- Your credit card issuer may actually call you like this if they believe they’ve detected fraudulent activity on your account. However, rather than give out any personal information over the phone, hang up and call the number that’s on the back of your credit card instead.
- Remember, don’t give out any personal information on any phone call that wasn’t initiated by you.
- Try to monitor your account activity consistently – either online or through an app on your smartphone. This means that you'll be up to date and aware of your account activity. Report any unauthorized charges to the credit card company immediately. If you feel that your account has been compromised, you can always be issued a new credit card.
Fake Hotel Front Desk Calls
While a hotel may be one of the last places you’d expect to be scammed by, you have to always be on guard – especially when you’re on vacation.
The scammer will phone your hotel room in late at night or even in the middle of the night, claiming to be someone from the hotel front desk. The caller will say that there’s been a technical issue with the hotel’s computer systems and they need you to provide them your credit card information again.
If you share these personal details over the phone, the scammer can then use them to make fraudulent charges on your account.
How to Avoid This
- Don’t give out any personal information, especially your credit card details, over the phone. This is because there is no way to safely verify the legitimacy of the caller.
- Walk down to the front desk and inquire whether there was a genuine request for your credit card information. If you’re unable to go down to the front desk immediately, try calling them and asking them the same thing.
Free Wi-Fi Scam
When you’re out and about and don’t want to use your data, you may look for free Wi-Fi hotspots. However, this may not always be a safe and secure network.
Scammers will set up a free Wi-Fi area that doesn’t require you to enter a password. Once you’re connected to the network, the scammer has access to anything you send while you’re on the network.
This means that if you log into your bank account or check your credit card balance, the scammer can quickly get your username and password. If you buy something on your phone, the scammer can copy all of your credit card information right then and there. Sometimes, they may even be able to access information that's in your browser history.
How to Avoid This
- Be cautious when using free Wi-Fi hotspots, especially if you’re in a location that usually charges for Wi-Fi. Even if a place you’re visiting offers you free Wi-Fi, try to confirm with an employee before connecting.
- Be wary of any information you’re sending over the network when connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot. Even if you feel that you're connected to the right network, scammers can also connect to the same network and siphon personal information.
Credit Card Skimming
It’s hard not to become complacent about swiping our credit cards and handing them over to a cashier when we purchase something. However, there is always the risk that your information is being stolen while you swipe for services or goods.
Credit card skimming occurs when the scammer gleams your credit card information off of a legitimate transaction. They may place a skimming device on top of a regular credit card processing system.
ATMs and gas stations are popular choices for scammers looking to place a skimming device. In more recent times, scammers have been putting these devices over credit card readers in self-checkout lanes at supermarkets and large retailers.
Sometimes, waitresses and cashiers have been recruited to be part of this skimming scam. They will swipe your credit card through a skimming device that’s handheld when you’re not aware.
Once your credit card information has been stolen, scammers will use it to make fraudulent purchases on your account and even create fake credit cards.
How to Avoid This
- Try to be vigilant when using credit card readers at ATMs and gas stations. Always check them before you use your card. Avoid using a credit card reader if you think it looks tampered with.
- Cover your hand when putting in your pin. Scammers may also place a camera near their skimming device to obtain this information as well.
- Remember to always monitor your debit and credit card accounts constantly. If you pick up on any suspicious activity, contact your credit card company immediately.