4 Mistakes People Make With Their Credit During the Winter

Here are some common credit mistakes people make during the winter.

No matter what seasonal holidays your family celebrates, we’re definitely in the festive season right now — it tends to start with Halloween and ends on January 1.

Over the last month or so, we’ve filled our pantries for Thanksgiving, hit the stores for Black Friday, and stocked up on gifts and food for Christmas or other family celebrations. (Not to mention all the pageants, concerts, get-togethers and parties that come with the season.)

During this time of year, many people get focused on gift giving and accidentally make these four credit mistakes, As we head into the home stretch, here are some not-so-smart spending behaviors to flag.

1. Overspending

‘Tis the season for giving, but some people give so much that they hurt themselves financially by spending more on their credit cards than they can pay back. That $25 gift for a friend that you thought you were getting a good deal on can suddenly cost $40 (or more!) once interest and fees are added onto an unpaid credit card. So be sure in these last few shopping days to stick to your budget. It’s okay to put things on your credit card … as long as you can pay off your credit card right away. (You can see how your holiday shopping has affected your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)

2. Not Watching for Fraud

There’s a lot of shopping this time of year – it starts with Halloween candy and costumes for the kids and ends with champagne for a New Years Eve celebration (and maybe a gym membership to go along with your 2017 resolution). Along the way, you’ve probably had your credit card in hand fairly often – shopping for a turkey for Thanksgiving or angling for a great deal on Black Friday or Boxing Day. With all that extra credit card use, it’s important to stay vigilant and monitor your credit card statements carefully for fraudulent charges. Also, be sure to report them to your issuer immediately to have the charges reversed and your card replaced.

3. Lending a Credit Card

If your spouse is running out to pick up some last-minute fixings for the annual family get-together, or maybe some stocking stuffers for the kids, it might be tempting to hand off your credit card to them if they don’t have their own. However, this common mistake can prove costly for so many people every year, because while your family member might be very trustworthy, a simple mistake of leaving behind a credit card they’re not used to carrying could lead to fraud. (Something else that’s important to note: Lending your credit card to someone else, though it isn’t illegal, could put you in violation of your card agreement and make it harder to reverse the charges made while the plastic was out of your hands. You can learn more about how this works here.)

4. Putting Your Credit Review on Hold

I always recommend reviewing your credit report at least twice a year — or even quarterly. But this season can be so busy that people will often put their good habits and responsibilities on hold so they can focus on the turkey, decorations, costumes and shopping that needs to be done. However, skipping a credit report check just once a year (especially during the holidays) can set you back dramatically and make it that much harder to check and clean up your report in the spring. (Remember, you can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com.)

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5 Cyber-Security Myths We Need to Ditch

Pick a subject, any subject, and there are myths and pure nonsense that someone will buy into.

  • Birds will die if they eat the uncooked rice flung at newlyweds. (Nope)
  • If you eat Mentos and drink Diet Coke simultaneously your stomach will explode. (Hardly)
  • You only have one credit score. (Wrong)
  • Napoleon was short. (At 5’ 6”, his height was average in his day).
  • “President Obama was the founder of ISIS.” (Oh, come on Donald!)

Cyber-security has its own set of misconceptions as well. Here are five.

1. Software Will Protect You

Say it with me now: “Software alone is not going to stop cyber-crime, even a little.”

There is no more harmful notion than the one that leads people into doing whatever they want on their computers or smartphones because they downloaded a software update. While software has its benefits, they often have to do with containing damage, not stopping an attack.

The false sense of security fostered by the idea that software can protect anyone from the kinds of daily mutating, highly sophisticated attacks out there today is dangerous.

2. Cyber-Crime Is Mostly About Credit Card Fraud

The idea that cyber-crime is just about credit card fraud is a pernicious misconception that, ironically, can lead to credit card fraud and other forms of credit-related crimes.

There is no right answer to the question regarding the most prevalent forms of cyber-crime. But by far the majority of the capers out there are focused on grabbing colossal amounts of personal identifying information from organizations that do business with millions of people or, alternately, stealing confidential business information that can be sold to the highest-bidding competitor. Sure, there are other forms of attack, some of them very much on the rise, such as ransomware schemes, but by and large the focus among cyber-criminals is on sellable information and making a lot more money than can be had from a credit pump-and-dump.

That said, the ways that stolen information can be used leads back to consumers and can very easily result in credit fraud, since stolen data can be easily purchased by identity thieves for next to nothing on the dark web.

3. Cyber-Crime Is Only About Making a Buck

If cyber-crime were only about making money, we’d all be a lot safer than we are right now.

Let that sink in.

Make no mistake, there are hordes of hackers out there driven by ideology. Many are far less interested in making money than in making money disappear or taking down the electrical grid or rigging an election. For them, mere monetary reward is not a motivation unless it is needed to facilitate an attack.

This is the stuff of nightmares and blockbuster Hollywood films, and there isn’t a thing most of us can do to stop any of it from happening.

In a world where the Stuxnet worm that was used to attack Iran’s nuclear program is quaint technology and detonating a hydrogen bomb would inflict less casualties than a cyber-attack that shuts off the power grid, having our credit ruined by a pajama-wearing identity thief is the least of our worries.

4. Cyber-Criminals Don’t Target Small Businesses

The myth that cyber-criminals don’t focus on businesses that aren’t at the top of the food chain can be debunked with one name: Target. The company was hacked by one remove. The criminals managed to get malware on a far-flung point-of-sale system by coming in the side door. They merely had to compromise a smaller HVAC vendor.

No matter how small the enterprise, it must have serious security protocols and a meaningful cyber-defense plan, lest it suffer an extinction-level event and potentially bring down a whole lot of other folks with it.

5. There Is No Way to Stop a Cyber-Attack

This is the biggest myth out there, in my opinion. Except, of course, that in the final analysis it is true: There is no way to stop every single cyber-attack.

That said, for many attacks, PEBCAK is the answer. Unfamiliar with this approach? It’s an oldie but goodie that anyone in IT will recognize, the letters forming an acronym that neatly states why countless attacks are successful. PEBCAK stands for Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard.

While it is true that cyber-threats abound, the only way to contain the pandemic and meaningfully push back is if everybody does what they are supposed to do. That is a big “if.” But one can hope, and while fixing the human problem is a Herculean task, it’s a worthy goal.

If you’re concerned you’ve been a victim of identity theft, it’s important to keep an eye on your credit as new accounts in your name or a sudden drop in credit scores indicate fraud has occurred. You can view two of your free credit scores, updated monthly, by visiting Credit.com.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

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Are Chip Cards Counterfeit-Proof? Not Exactly


Computer researchers may have found a flaw in chip-based credit cards. Though the cards are designed to combat fraudulent cloning, apparently there’s a way to rewrite the magnetic strip code so it resembles the standard Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) card.

Researchers at the payment technology company NCR presented their findings at the Black Hat computer security conference last Wednesday, CNN Money reported. “There’s a common misperception EMV solves everything,” Patrick Watson, one of the researchers, reportedly told the site. “It doesn’t.”

All a thief has to do is alter the data on the magnetic stripe so that it fools the terminal, the researchers said. As a result, the researchers suggested retailers encrypt whatever they can to help protect customers.

For their part, major machine makers Verifone and Ingenico said that they offer end-to-end encryption on retailer’s machines, CNN reported. Meanwhile, Jason Oxman, a spokesperson for the Electronic Transactions Association, a trade group, said via email that the issue “actually has nothing to do with the chips” at all. Here’s why:

“Every magnetic stripe on a chip-enabled card has a code on it that tells the POS at a retailer that if the customer tries to swipe the card, they should be prompted to insert the chip card instead. This ensures that the chip is used instead of the magnetic stripe. What this researcher figured out a way to do is alter the code on the magnetic stripe to say to the POS ‘I am not a chip card,’ and then to ask the POS to send the transaction to the issuing bank for approval as a magnetic stripe transaction. This is called a fall back transaction because the transaction should be a chip transaction, but it will fall back to a magnetic stripe transaction.

The issuing bank, when it receives the authorization request, will know that the card is a chip-enabled card [despite] the bad code on the magnetic stripe card, and the issuing bank will make the decision whether to approve the fall back transaction or not, based on a variety of factors. (The hacked code on the magnetic stripe card can only fool the POS, not the issuing bank.)”

Doug Johnson, senior vice president of the Payments and Cybersecurity Policy division at the American Bankers Association, said it’s important to remember banks’ additional protections for customers.

“End-to-end encryption is an important security measure for retail point-of-sale transactions that merchants have endorsed and should implement,” he said. “At the same time, it is important to remember that bank customers will be fully reimbursed for any unauthorized transaction against their account.”

If you carry a chip card and believe you’ve been a victim of fraud, you’ll want to contact your credit issuer immediately to cancel the card. After that, it’s a good idea to monitor your credit reports for any additional signs of trouble. (You can see your free credit report summary, updated monthly, on Credit.com.) You may also want to change your financial account passwords and pins to be on the safe side.

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How Companies Know Your New Credit Card Number Before You Give it to Them


Recently, a Netflix customer took to Reddit to explain how he got a big surprise when the streaming service charged him using his new credit card number, which he hadn’t given them. How did that happen?

One commenter offered a clue: Netflix likely participates in Visa’s Account Updater program.

Netflix declined to comment on whether it uses updater services.

However, for retailers who rely on recurring payments or cards on file in general, “it’s becoming very normal to use this technology,” according to Eric Lindeen, vice president of marketing for ID Analytics in San Diego, California, which offers fraud prevention tools to issuers. And updater services, which notify merchants of changes to customers’ cards, will only become more common, as Visa will reportedly require U.S. issuers to participate in its service, effective October 1. (Visa did not respond to Credit.com’s request for comment.)

How Updater Services Work  

Each month, merchants send a list of names and card numbers to their acquirer, or payment processor, who check their data against Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, Lindeen explained. The acquirer lists the cards with updated information, and returns the list to the merchant. From there, the merchant updates their files before submitting transactions that month.

Lindeen cites the rise of identity theft as one of the main factors contributing to the proliferation of updater services offered by startups like Stripe and BrainTree and old-school issuers like Visa and MasterCard.

“As fraudsters become more competent,” he reasoned, “the financial system has to become more complex to deal with them. So many credit cards have been stolen that led to numbers being changed.”

Brave New World

A few years ago, it was typical for customers to forgo updating their card when they wanted to cancel a service. The reasoning, according to Lindeen, was they’d just let it expire and eventually the billing would stop. Even today, it’s not uncommon for people to assume their account is going to lapse, like the Reddit user.

However, as more merchants enroll in updater services, our behaviors are going to change. It’s perfectly legal for issuers to share card information with merchants with whom you do business, — the assumption is if you signed up for their service, you’ve assumed responsibility for the bill — so consumers must be more vigilant about canceling various services, Lindeen said. Another imperative: Letting card issuers know when you don’t want a merchant to receive your new info, which you can do by phone.

“The good news is, I think the issuers and networks are really thinking about how to adapt to this new normal,” Lindeen said of the updater services. “We need to go from a world where [identity theft] was an exception to a world where we’re built to handle that effectively.” Updater services are a step in that direction, he said.

If you have reason to believe you’ve been a victim of fraud — common signs of identity theft include unauthorized charges, unfamiliar addresses and mysterious accounts opening in your name — be sure to check your credit score to find out more. You can view your two free scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.

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Most of Us Do ‘Risky’ Things With Our Credit & Debit Cards


More than half of credit, debit and prepaid card users around the world are opening themselves up to fraud and identity theft through risky behaviors that could be completely avoided.

That’s one of the findings of a report released today by ACI Worldwide that looked at credit, debit and prepaid card fraud in 20 countries.

The report, “2016 Global Consumer Card Fraud: Where Card Fraud Is Coming From,” found that 30% of all cardholders globally had experienced fraud in the last five years. Cardholders in Mexico (54%), Brazil (49%) and the United States (47%) experienced the greatest rates of fraud over that time period, while cardholders in Sweden (14%), The Netherlands (14%) and Hungary (9%) experienced the least.

The risky behaviors and rates of fraud don’t necessarily correlate, however. Respondents reported virtually the same rate of risky behaviors across countries, but the rates of fraud varied dramatically. For example, 23% of respondents in Brazil, the country with the second highest rate of card fraud, reported throwing away documents without shredding them, while 22% of respondents in The Netherlands, the country with the second lowest rate of card fraud, did.

The study looked at behaviors such as:

  • Responding to emails or calls asking for banking information
  • Carrying PINs with cards or writing the PIN on the card
  • Shopping or banking online without security software or on a public computer
  • Throwing away unshredded documents with account numbers and other personal information
  • Leaving smartphones unlocked while not in use

Not All Risk Is Behavior-Related

It turns out EMV technology likely has more to do with fraud rates than cardholder behavior does. EMV stands for Europay Mastercard Visa, the three firms that originally developed the standard. In the U.S., they’re frequently referred to as “chip cards” or “chip credit cards.”

“Europe was much earlier in enabling EMV and having it pushed out at a continental and industry level. As a result, protections have been better [than in countries that were later to adopt EMV technology],” said Andreas Suma, vice president and general manager of ACI Worldwide in Latin America. “The weaknesses in instituting EMV represents the biggest opportunity for fraud, and as a result we’ve seen more fraud in places like Brazil, and the United States and Mexico.”

According to the report, fraud rates in the U.S. are driven “by the fact that it is a wealthy economy and that card payments are the go-to payment method for most consumers.” That, combined with the prevalence of online shopping and slow adoption of EMV, make the U.S. a gold mine for criminals. Already, the U.S. has seen a doubling of new account fraud, and based on other countries’ experience with EMV adoption, ACI Worldwide’s report said it is expected that card-not-present (CNP) fraud also will increase as the country continues to migrate to EMV.

“It’s generally recognized that there will be a migration of fraud to card-not-present,” Suma said. “The report doesn’t break that out explicitly, but it’s seen as a general trend. Also, as e-commerce explodes … merchants are coming up to speed with solutions and capabilities to defend against fraud, but that is an evolving landscape.”

Once Bitten, Twice Shy?

Data breaches have become almost everyday occurrences, and it can be safely assumed that most consumers’ payment card details as well as other information, such as PINs, emails and addresses have been breached. In the Americas, for example, approximately 53% of U.S. residents received a replacement card in the past year, along with 46% of Mexicans, 30% of Canadians and 45% of Brazilians, according to the report. Some issuers replace cards when a breach is suspected, even when no signs of fraud have been detected on a particular account.

That might not be great news for issuers, as 40% of cardholders who receive replacement cards dramatically reduce their account use. It’s probably not as much a matter of trusting the issuer’s ability to keep their account safe as it is of convenience, Suma said. He theorizes it has a lot more to do with automatic payments.

“A lot of people use their cards for billing purposes for example, and … as you’re waiting for a replacement card, it could be that you’re updating a lot of the payments with another card,” Suma said. “Institutions need to get ahead of this from a customer-experience and customer-service perspective.”

What If You’re a Victim?

When prevention isn’t an option, rapid detection can make all the difference in containing the damage of fraud or identity theft. Sudden changes in your credit scores can be a sign of identity theft (you can see two free credit scores every 30 days on Credit.com), and you’ll want to regularly review your free annual credit reports for errors.

Identity theft victims can file reports with the local authorities, notify their creditors and the credit bureaus and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, among other things. If you’re a victim, you’ll also likely need to dispute any errors you find on your credit reports. You can go here to learn how.)

[Offer: If you need help fixing errors on your credit report, Lexington Law could help you meet your goals. Learn more about them here or call them at (844) 346-3296 for a free consultation.]

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Do I Have to Activate My New Credit Card? (The Answer May Surprise You)


A lot can happen in the seven-to-10 business days it typically takes a new credit card to arrive in the mail. But if you’re having second thoughts about your chosen plastic, you’d be remiss to think that failing to formally activate the account negates its existence.

Issuers typically ask that new cardholders “activate” their cards by calling them or registering the plastic online once it’s in hand. This requirement helps to prevent someone from scooping the new card out of your mail and taking it on a shopping spree, but it doesn’t serve much of a purpose beyond that.

“Activation is simply a fraud protection measure,” Nessa Feddis, senior vice president and deputy chief counsel at the American Bankers Association, said. “It’s divorced from whether the account is opened or reported [to the credit bureaus].”

In fact, issuers typically start reporting the card to the credit reporting agencies once you’ve been approved. The application will almost immediately generate a hard inquiry on your credit report and, shortly thereafter, the card’s credit limit will factor into your credit utilization rate, whether you abide by the activation request or not.

Interestingly, there’s also a chance the card itself would work at a store, should you try use it without making that phone call or registering online.

“All American Express cards are flagged as pending confirmation of card receipt when a card is mailed. We strongly recommend Card Members confirm receipt when the card arrives to help verify their identity and mitigate against fraud,” a spokesperson for American Express said in an email. “However, because of our relationship with our Card Members, we are able to selectively approve charges that we evaluate to be of very low risk, even if the card receipt has not yet been confirmed. For example, if a Card Member receives their new card, puts it into their wallet and proceeds to use it at their local coffee shop they frequent, we might be able to approve the transaction.”

Making the Call

It’s still in a cardholder’s best interest to activate a new credit card, since that’s the quickest way to ensure you won’t hit any snags when trying to make a purchase. It also minimizes the odds of fraudulent charges.

If you haven’t received a card you applied for, you should notify the issuer — they can tell you if the account has been used and/or send you a replacement. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your credit to make sure someone else didn’t run up any balances or commit any other nefarious activity in the interim. You can do so by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com. A sudden drop in scores can be a sign identity theft is occurring.

If you are having second thoughts about an account you opened, you should call to formally close the card. Just be aware that doing so might affect your credit score.

Keep in mind, too, an issuer may elect to close a card if it remains inactive long enough, so you may want to address an unwanted account head on (or use it from time to time to make small purchases) rather than weather any damage a sudden, unplanned closure may do to your score. (You can find out more about the effects closing a credit card can have on your credit here.)

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Why Are So Many Credit Card Thieves Making Political Donations?


If you’ve ever had your credit card number stolen, you may have noticed the first transaction the thief made was a small one. It’s a common tactic for testing the validity of the card, because if a little transaction gets through, the thief can probably make several bigger ones before someone notices and shuts down the account.

Apparently, thieves have made political campaigns their new testing grounds. It’s the latest trend in credit card fraud, according to fraud-detection company Kount. In a news release about the trend, Kount noted how the influx of political donations this time of year can make it trickier for organizations to detect fraud problems, which can cause problems for the campaigns once a bank or consumer flags the unauthorized transactions.

For consumers, it’s a reminder of how important it is to regularly review credit card statements so small transactions, like fraudsters’ tests, don’t go unnoticed. Not only is it a pain to have to get charges reversed and the credit card replaced, the damage can go so far as to hurt your credit score. Say a thief runs up a high credit card balance before you or your bank catches the problem, and that balance gets reported to the major credit bureaus. The closer your credit card balances get to your credit card limits, the more your scores can drop. That’s why a sudden drop in credit score, too, can be a sign of unauthorized activity on your credit accounts. (You can see two of your credit scores for free every 30 days on Credit.com.)

You should also be careful about where you enter your credit card information to minimize the odds of it getting compromised. Check to see if the site is secure (for example, look for a URL with https or a little lock sign next to it in your browser), and closely follow your transactions by checking your account information. As soon as you see something suspicious, contact your credit card issuer to minimize the hassle of reversing the effects of credit card fraud.

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Visa Adds New Tools to Give You More Control of Your Credit Cards


Credit cards are getting smarter — finally. Last year, Discover launched its nifty “Freeze It” feature, which acts like a temporary on/off switch for account holders who think-they-have-but-maybe-haven’t lost their card. Now, Visa is announcing a whole set of similar app-activated “switches” that give consumers even more granular fraud-fighting and allowance-permitting tools.

Called “Visa Consumer Transaction Controls,” the new tools will let consumers set spending limits (only $500 a month for Junior), block entire sets of transactions (no online shopping for Junior), or turn cards on and off, similar to the “Freeze it” feature on Discover cards.

While Visa makes the tools available, it’ll be up to issuing banks to add the capabilities to consumers’ accounts. Software development tools will make it relatively easy for banks to add the options to their online banking apps, meaning consumers can update the controls on their mobile devices in real-time.

“By putting the account holder in charge, Visa card issuers can provide their consumers peace of mind through innovative spending controls, and more effective fraud prevention,” said Mark Nelsen, senior vice president of Risk Products and Business Intelligence, Visa Inc.

The tools might also be useful in budgeting, too. Transactions over a certain dollar amount can be banned — giving the consumer a chance to second-guess a big purchase. More important, since spending controls can be applied to different transaction types and date ranges, the controls could be used to send an alert or to freeze all spending in one area – online, for example – notifying the account holder that he or she is over budget.

MasterCard said it offers a similar spending-alert tool, called In Control, to banks that issue its credit cards.

“Once an issuing bank agrees to offer In Control, the issuing bank can choose the most appropriate deployment form for their operation and then communicate to their cardholders,” said Seth Eisen, a MasterCard spokesman. “The cardholders can then access In Control either through the bank’s mobile app or website, or by registering on a separate app or website if the bank doesn’t offer this service through their own channels.”

American Express didn’t immediately response to a request for comment.

In a video accompanying its product launch, Visa stressed the ability of parents to limit their kids’ credit card spending with the tool.

“With new digital commerce experiences emerging daily, it’s important that we provide easy and convenient ways for consumers to direct and monitor how their accounts are used and help better secure the payment system,” Nelsen said.

It’s not immediately clear when the transaction controls will be made available to consumers (Visa didn’t immediately respond to a question about that). Here’s a full list of features Visa is offering, per its press release:

  • Temporarily stop transactions. At the touch of a button, the account holder can easily turn card authorizations on and off and take immediate action should their card become misplaced, lost, or stolen.
  • Manage specific transaction types. Consumers can block or request alerts for selected activity including purchases in-store, online or internationally, as well as ATM withdrawals.
  • Set spending limits. Account holders can limit transaction size, set spending limits over a period of time, or receive spending alerts based on transaction amount.
  • Manage multiple cards. Families or businesses can define individual controls or alerts for primary cards as well as companion cards that are given to family members or employees providing more real-time control and visibility into spending. For example, a parent can share a Visa account with a child by providing a companion card with spending limits and transaction alerts that are sent to the parent’s mobile device.

Protecting Your Payments

If you’re interested in beefing up the controls tied to your financial accounts, you can contact your bank or issuer to see what types of alerts or features they may offer. You can also minimize the chances of falling victim to credit card fraud by using a new EMV chip-enabled debit or credit card during in-store transactions, sticking to encrypted sites when shopping online and not storing account information on websites.

Remember, no matter what controls you have in place, you should still monitor your credit card or debit card accounts regularly for suspicious charges or fees. If you do spot fraud, contact your issuer immediately to dispute the transactions and to have the card replaced. Finally, if you have any reason to believe your personal information was compromised alongside your payment data, you should monitor your credit. A sudden drop in your credit scores is a sign your identity has been stolen. You can keep an eye on your credit by viewing your two free credit scores each month on Credit.com.

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Careful: 5 Credit Card Scams to Be Aware Of


Identity thieves will do whatever it takes to swindle you out of your hard earned cash. But it doesn’t always stop there as credit cards are also a viable option.

In the past few years, we’ve watched as several big-box retailers, including Target and Home Depot, scrambled to make amends with customers who were affected by breaches to their payment processing systems.

Those stories were plastered all over the news, but we don’t see nearly as much coverage of the isolated incidents that cost consumers millions of dollars and sabotage their credit each day. 

Let’s take a closer look at some common credit card scams:

1. Fraud Alerts

Many credit card issues have fraud departments intact to monitor activity. So when you receive a call alerting you of an issue with your card, chances are you’ll be more than willing to do whatever it takes, including confirming personal information, to get the problem resolved. But proceed with caution as you may be at the hands of a fraudster.

A better option: call your card issuer directly to confirm an issue even exists and resolve it from there.

2. Skimming

This scam is the reason why I always try to use cash when dining out. It’s as simple as pie for perpetrators since all they have to do is swindle you out of your credit card and swipe it through a skimming machine to obtain all your account information. Once they’ve done so, new cards with your data can be created and used to fund a lavish dining experience, shopping spree, or whatever they choose to spend the money on.

3. Jury Duty

Have you been summoned to jury duty in the past? If so, you’ve received a court notice with instructions on the date, time and location to report. But what happens if you receive a call stating that you’ve missed an assignment and must confirm identifying information to avoid a trip to the slammer? If you’re wise, you’ll hang up the phone and give the court a call. Reasoning: fraudsters use this tactic to con you out of your social security number, address, date of birth, and other account information, creating the perfect opportunity to hijack your identity.

4. Chip Cards

Select credit card issuers recently welcomed the EMV credit cards to their arsenal. The deadline to switch was October 1, and fraudsters found a way to capitalize on the transition. How so? By contacting account holders via email and requesting that they confirm personal information in order for a new card to be issued.

5. Debt Consolidation

“For a low monthly fee, you can take care of all your credit card obligations and be debt-free in just a few short years. All you have to do is confirm your account information, make a one-time payment, and you’re all set.”

Wishful thinking. But unfortunately, scores of individuals succumb to this tactic out of sheer desperation and once they realize the alleged company is a scam, their deposit is already gone along with all their personal and account information.

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