I just finished reading an article in which a credit card thief shares the secrets of his trade and how crooks steal your credit card information. In addition he provided information on how your identity can be compromised and what to do to protect yourself online when making purchases. What is scary is that there are people out there who can steal your information so easy, it is kind of scary.
One scam that I wasn’t aware of is that waiters or waitresses can carry hand-held skimmers and scan your credit card number off of your card. They then sell this information online for $10 to $50 to scammers. The scammer takes the information and encodes it on a new credit card, and then makes purchases with the fraudulent card.
Here is some other information you should be aware of:
What about debit cards?
I always recommend against them. With debit cards, it’s your real money in your bank account you’re playing with. So if someone gets your debit card information and uses it, your cash is gone until you fill out a lot of paperwork and persuade the bank to give it back to you. Credit cards are much better at protecting you against fraud.
Is online shopping safe?
You’ve got to be careful. It is really easy to create a fake online store or to create a store that sells stuff, but its real purpose is to collect credit card information. I’d try to stick to reputable sites or at least to sites that have reviews.
That’s the reason it’s so important to access secure websites if you’re putting in any sensitive data, so look for “https” in the Web address.
So how do you protect yourself from all of the scams and scammers?
What’s your No. 1 tip on how consumers can protect themselves?
You’ve probably heard this before, but the most important thing really is to watch your accounts. And I don’t mean just checking your statement once a month. If you’re only checking your statement once a month, someone can start using your card at the beginning of the billing cycle, and they can do a lot of damage before you catch it. You’re talking thousands of dollars, and it will be a lot harder to catch them and dispute it. I use Mint.com, which is a free aggregation service that allows you to put all your accounts on there and monitor everything at once. I check that every day. It’s also a good idea to check your credit report at least twice a year to make sure no one has stolen your identity.
I don’t know what you do, but I follow the above advice religiously. I check my accounts and credit card statements at least once a week or more. I also do get my credit reports and scan them carefully. It is an eye opener when you see the erroneous information on your credit report. I recall several years ago that one of my reports showed two dates of birth. Go figure.
I only shop at trusted online merchants like Amazon. I rarely stray away and normally avoid unknown online business shops.
I also avoid using ATM machines when possible. I carry some emergency cash on my person just in case I feel uncomfortable using my credit card, especially when I travel.
What do you do to protect yourself?