Learn More About Credit Card Fraud

“Credit card fraud” as a concept is a pretty common way to strike fear into the general consumer’s heart. But what does it mean? And what can you do to fight back against it?

Financial and Identity Theft

At its core, credit card fraud is essentially a mix of both financial and identity theft. In order for an individual to commit identity fraud, that person has to have your financial information in the form of your credit card numbers. But they also need to have a pretty significant amount of identifying information. Because the individual pretends to be you while using your card, it’s always at least a mix of the two.

In some cases, individuals will open up fraudulent credit cards in your name, use them, then default on the balance. This is another form of credit card fraud, although it tends to be closer to identity fraud. The thing is, it’s just as upsetting and can even be more impactful, depending on how you’re able to deal with it. Either way, an individual has to have both financial and identifying information to commit credit card fraud.

Long-Lasting Impacts

Credit card fraud can have significant and long-lasting impacts on your life. If the scammer steals your existing credit card and makes small enough payments that you don’t notice for some time, you may end up paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars for purchases you didn’t actually make, depending on how long it takes for you to notice.

Even worse is if someone opens a new credit card in your name, or they make a huge purchase on one of your existing credit cards. If that happens, you have to prove you didn’t open the card or make the purchase — otherwise, you might have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in payments. It can also severely damage your credit.

Sometimes Out of Your Control

Although you should definitely be careful with how you use your financial and identifying information, credit card fraud is sometimes simply out of your control. Data breaches are more common than ever, and those data breaches can affect very large companies and very small ones alike.

It can be upsetting to consider the possibility that you can’t do anything to prevent credit card fraud. But the best thing to remember is that with the right tools and a little bit of additional knowledge, you can prevent credit card fraud from significantly impacting you.

What Are the Most Common Credit Card Scams?

Now that you know what credit card fraud is, you might want to know how it happens. What type of credit card scams are the most common?

Phishing Scams

You’re much more likely to give out your information if you think the person calling already has your information, and scammers know that. Phishing scams are a general umbrella of scams that describe when an individual is attempting to get information from you by pretending to be a person or organization you already trust. These scammers prey on your trust of others to ingratiate themselves.

Because it’s a general umbrella of scams, phishing scams can technically include lots of different types of ruses. However, the most prominent are identity and financial scams, which naturally combine into credit card fraud. Stay on the lookout for this one by never giving out your personal or credit card information when someone calls out of the blue to ask for it — call the person or organization back at a trusted number.

Verification Scams

It’s common for people to verify information over the phone — after all, banks call when they spot strange activity on your credit card, so why wouldn’t you want to verify that information? The thing is, scammers know you’re likely to trust someone calling for verification, which means they can take advantage of it.

A verification scam happens when an individual who claims to be from the government or your bank asks you to verify your card usage, but first they ask you to verify information like your credit card number or Social Security Number. As with phishing scams, this is just a ploy to steal your information. Call the institution or individual back instead.

Ransomware

Playing off the old concept of holding something for ransom, ransomware locks down your computer and refuses to give you any of the information until you pay money to unlock it. There are lots of moving parts to this scam: some scammers may claim to be from the government, some provide a time limit, and some won’t release your information even if you pay the fine.

What all of these have in common is that your computer is unusable until you get rid of it. But no matter what type of ransomware you have, don’t just pay the fine. Take your computer to a technician and see what the technician can do about it. You might find that it’s really just cosmetic or that the technician can help you get the information with no problem.

How Can I Keep Myself Safe From Credit Card Scams?

It’s hard to handle the fact that you may have compromised financial information. What can you do to stay safe?

Be Careful to Whom You Give Out Information

Obviously, it’s important that you keep your private information as private as possible. The main reason people tend to fall victim to these phishing schemes and other scams that require you to offer information over the phone is that you’re not paying enough attention to what’s going on, or you panic. But now that you know, you can be more careful.

A good way to see whether the phone number in question is valid is to use PeopleFinders’ reverse phone lookup. When you get a phone call, use the reverse phone lookup to quickly check on its validity. It only takes a few clicks, and you should quickly get the information you need about whether a phone number is actually coming from the entity on record.

Conduct Background Checks Frequently

Whenever you give out your private information, you should know without a doubt that the information is going somewhere safe. That’s why background checks from PeopleFinders can be so incredibly helpful. Similar to the reverse phone lookup, a background check can easily help you understand a little bit more about the person who’s claiming to give you information that just may be leading you into a credit card fraud trap.

All you need for the background check is a first name, last name and a location. Because of that, it’s incredibly easy to get more information on just about anyone. Even if you need to look through the results for a little while, it’s a good option for trying to get more information on people in your general circles.

Search for Your Own Information

Because companies can also leak your information--even if it’s accidental--you should double check your own information when you can. It’s pretty simple: you just have to do the same thing you usually would to check anyone else, but use your own name. Find your result in the people search, then go through and see what information is currently available to the public.

If you find any information you’re concerned about, it’s usually no big deal to go to the source and try to get it fixed. You can also find more about how people are using your information, making it easier to stay safe at all times.

What Is Credit Card Fraud?