Do you know how to protect yourself from credit card fraud? There always seems to be headlines about yet another data breach—when hackers break into a company’s computer system and steal sensitive and confidential personal data about their customers and clients.
In 2018, Marriott International announced that a break in to its guest reservation database exposed information about as many as 500 million people, including names, addresses and, in some cases, credit card numbers. Saks and Lord & Taylor announced that a hacking group was selling details about 5 million stolen credit and debit cards from their customers. And a breach at travel site Orbitz exposed the payment card information of 880,000 people.
The new chip cards, with the metallic square on the front, provide an extra layer of security, but the technology doesn’t prevent all credit card fraud, according to TransUnion, the credit reporting agency. In fact, billions of people lost data and millions of dollars to hackers in 2018, according to USA Today.
So, what’s a consumer to do? Experts say educate yourself about how your personal information can be stolen—and take action to protect yourself from credit card fraud.
Should I only be worried about hackers stealing my credit card information?
While the headlines might blare the details of data breaches, there are plenty of low-tech opportunities for con artists to steal your credit card information.
Bankrate.com recently covered the five ways thieves steal credit card data. Bad actors, for example, can place malware in software or public computers to access private information. A waitress or retail sales clerk might use a tiny device called a skimmer that stores your credit card information for their own use with a quick swipe.
A team of fraudsters could work together to secretly switch out a store’s credit card reader with one of their own, which stores your credit card information. Another could attach a skimmer with Bluetooth capability to a gas pump. It then sends payment information to a nearby laptop for tricksters to use as they please.
And all these crooks can sell the payment card information they get to other criminals online.
While it may be impossible to completely protect yourself, the Federal Trade Commission offers some actionable tips that will go a long way to keep your credit card numbers confidential.
Here are 7 ways to protect yourself from credit card fraud, courtesy of the FTC:
Laws such as the Fair Credit Billing Act protect consumers from having to pay for thousands of dollars of unauthorized charges. The law limits your liability to no more than $50, according to the Federal Trade Commission. And if you report a lost or stolen card to your credit card company before it’s ever even used, you aren’t required to pay back any charges you didn’t make.
In other words, vigilance might be the best protection against fraudsters, eager to rip you off.
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