The five types of credit card fraud and how to protect yourself

Credit card fraud has been a threat to our security for almost as long as credit cards have been in production. The nature of using a tiny piece of plastic to carry out large monetary transactions has evolved from unique, to regular and mundane. In fact, it is now the people who choose to avoid using credit cards that sometimes find themselves at a disadvantage, which unfortunately, works in favour of the bad guys.

credit card fraud

You might think that credit card fraud is fairly straightforward – it’s just someone stealing your card details and using them without your permission, right? Wrong. There are in fact five different types of credit card fraud that we’re at risk to in our daily lives, some which are a lot more difficult to avoid than the others.

The types of credit card fraud

  1. Card Theft – this is the original crime; when someone steals your card and uses it without permission.
  2. Phishing Attacks – these can occur through spoof websites or emails, where the information attempts to trick you into revealing your card details. Like all phishing attacks, urgent language is often used to get you to act impulsively, so if you see something like this, remember to stop and think before you act.
  3. ID Theft – this occurs when criminals steal your personal information either from physical documents you’ve thrown away, or from mining information that has been carelessly posted online.
  4. Card Skimming – one of the more complicated methods of credit card fraud to watch out for. Card skimming occurs when someone tries to clone your credit or debit card, through a device which can either be attached to an ATM machine, or used in retail services instead of a legal card reader. Although these are a lot harder to identify, always try and be vigilant when inserting your card into a foreign device and watch out for anything that looks different or that you haven’t seen before.
  5. Social Engineering – surprisingly, this is also a type of credit card fraud as it can happen when the criminal poses as someone in a position of trust to acquire your card details. Often this will be a bank employee or a government official who is pretending to offer help or advice through an online chat system or over the phone.

How you can stay vigilant 

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of encountering credit card fraud:

  1. Never leave your card unattended
  2. Regularly check your bank statements and credit card bills to check for unfamiliar payments
  3. Never share your card details or PIN number with anyone
  4. Ensure your PIN number is secure – don’t use your birthday or any familiar set of digits, as this might be easier to guess
  5. Only communicate with your bank through official, secure channels
  6. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and withhold any payments or transactions and independently contact your bank for reassurance

If you are a victim of fraud 

The first thing is don’t panic. Unfortunately – or fortunately depending on how you look at it – because of how popular credit card fraud has become, there are many ways of dealing with it too. You should contact your card holder immediately and make them aware of the suspicious activity, allowing them to cancel or freeze your card. Following this you should change all passwords linked to the account, and any others which might be compromised.

A good password should be unique to the account and contain a random selection of letters, numbers, and special characters. Passphrases can be a great option here, as they’re easy to remember and very difficult to guess. This is a combination of three random words and numbers, like sheep7bicycle12banana4. Never write down your password or passphrase and never share it with anyone – if you are concerned about remembering your passwords, use a password manager.

If you are then found to be a legitimate victim of fraud, in almost all circumstances an investigation will be launched and your money will be returned to you. The only cases where this might not happen would be if you failed to report the fraud as soon as you became aware of it, or you were found to be behaving negligently at the time of the incident.

Want to find out more?

If you want to find out more about how you can keep your organisation protected against credit card fraud, then Boxphish has a number of courses and learning journeys which can help.

At Boxphish, we are passionate about providing our users with the skills needed to identify and avoid cyber-attacks, reducing risk and protecting both the individual and the organisation. We use interactive training and real-world attack simulations to educate and train our users, with courses tailored to individual needs and industries. Click here to find out more and book your demo today.

Do you want to eliminate cyber security breaches?