Top 4 Credit & Debit Card Scams To Avoid In 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017, AM | Leave Comment

Consumers are dependent on credit and debit cards, and though they provide you with convenience, they come with their own set of risks.

You have probably heard about transaction scams on the news, and maybe even heard stories from friends and family.

Being able to identify common credit and debit scams will help you avoid falling victim.

Top 4 Credit & Debit Card Scams To Avoid In 2017

  1. Credit Card “Security” Scam

    The Scam: You get an automated call, or a call from a scammer posing as your financial institution stating that fraudulent activity has been detected on your account, and in order to unfreeze your account, you must call in to reactivate it.

    In most instances this will be an automated call, and provide you with a menu option to speak with a live attendant to reinstate your card after verifying personal information.

    A scammer may also send you an automated SMS pretending to be your financial institution stating that your account has been frozen.

    The scammer will provide you with a link, which will lead to a site that replicates your financial institution’s website, where he or she will collect and steal your personal and financial information.

    The Sign: In most instances, if your financial institution freezes your card they will not call you, you will need to initiate the call to get your card reinstated.

    How to Avoid: If you get an automated call from your financial institution stating that your account has been frozen due to fraudulent activity, hang up and do not press any menu options.

    Call your financial institution back directly using the phone number located on the back of your card, or on your financial institution’s website.

    If you receive a suspicious text or SMS that appears to be from your financial institution advising your account has been frozen, do not click on any links.

  2. Skimming Devices

    The Scam: Skimming devices are malicious card readers that steal and store your credit card’s data via your card’s magnetic strip.

    Skimmers are attached to real payment terminals, and can be difficult to identify if you are not looking for them.

    To accompany a skimmer, many scammers also place a hidden camera somewhere in view of the terminal’s keypad to pick up your PIN number.

    In addition, some scammers even install fake keypad overlays to capture consumers’ PINs directly. Common places for skimmers include: gas pumps, ATMs, Restaurants, and self-checkout registers at retail stores.

    The Sign: When you pull up to a gas pump, or get ready to use an ATM, check for tampering. Give the card reader, and any other protruding parts a good wiggle to see if it moves. Examine the keyboard to ensure it doesn’t look too thick, and check for any cameras.

    How to Avoid: If you suspect any abnormalities at the checkout terminal, do not move forward with the transaction, and notify the merchant right away. It is better to be safe than sorry.

  3. Online Shopping

    The Scam: Scammers understand that consumers like to shop online. There are many types of online shopping scams, but one of the most prevalent are fake/counterfeit merchandise scams.

    With this type of scam, crooks set up generic online stores that sell expensive items at reduced prices. Scammers may also set-up websites to mirror the legit websites of online retailers.

    If you make a purchase on one of these sites, the scammer will make off with your credit card number, which he or she can use later to make purchases.

    The Sign: If a deal presents a price difference that seems too good, it’s best to take heed. Either these items are knock-offs or worse, the whole site may be after your credit card information. Deals that seem too good to be true should raise a huge red flag.

    How to Avoid: Be smart when shopping online. Only purchase items from website that are encrypted and secured (https://), especially on their checkout page. Browse over the site and check for grammatical errors or content that looks unprofessional. You can also verify the contact details of the merchant and try to investigate if they are legit.

  4. Restaurant Scams

    The Scam: The clear majority of wait staff is honest, but just like any other profession there are a few bad apples.

    With this type of scam, your waitress or waiter will either write down your credit card information, or swipe your card through a skimming device when you go to pay.

    This type of scam is especially popular at a sit-down restaurant where the waiter or waitress is out of sight when swiping your card.

    The Sign: Unfortunately, you will not know if you have been scammed right away when you pay with a credit or debit card at a restaurant where you are not able to see the transaction occur.

    How to Avoid: The best way to avoid this is to pay with cash. If you are unable to pay with cash, make sure to check your online banking accounts frequently to check for any suspicious or fraudulent activity.

As a consumer, you have to be careful with how, when, and where you provide your credit card information. Here are six additional tips on how to shop securely as contributed by a leading financial comparison website, iMoney, with helpful resources aimed to guide the common consumer.

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