Financial Literacy

Beware: Safeguard Your Credit Cards

The recent Equifax breach has made consumers more cautious about monitoring their personal information and their credit. Whether it is unauthorized access to personal information or the misuse of credit information, individuals should beware of several scams that can affect them and their credit cards.

Here are a few and how they work:

Scam Phone Calls. A scam artist may call you to say you owe money to clear up an invoice. The scam caller may ask for a credit card to resolve the issue. Don’t do it. Hang up and call your credit card company to tell them what just happened to you. There are also phone scams where scammers offer to reduce your credit card debt. Be clever and ask the caller for a callback number. The caller will often either hang up. But if they give you a callback phone number, give that information to your credit card company.

Skimmers. Scam artists can walk next to you and use a device that grabs your credit card number through your wallet or purse. Scam artists also can place a skimmer device on ATM machines or other self-serve units like gas pumps and vending machines that grab your credit card number. With today’s technology, your “skimmed” credit card number can quickly be transmitted by Bluetooth to a scammer’s partner some distance away. Once you see unusual activity on your credit card, immediately contact your credit card provider. More than likely, your credit card company will contact you first, because your credit card number will be used immediately showing a lot of activity once it has been skimmed. You can avoid having your credit card information captured by someone walking by or bumping into you, by keeping your credit cards in a protective RFID card sleeve, wallet, or purse.

Credit Card Fraud Department Scam. Individuals may receive an official sounding call from someone who claims to be from the fraud department of your credit card provider. The caller will tell you that your credit card has been breached. They will even offer you a callback phone number if you have questions. You will be asked to verify your credit card information including the credit card security code. Credit card companies will never call you and ask that you verify your credit card number or security code. Hang up immediately, then call your credit card provider to inform them that you may have been contacted by a scam artist.

Hacking of Online Purchases. Some online sites have a low security set up which makes a website more susceptible to vicious malware. Malware is a type of software that damages or infiltrates a computer or network. This type of software grabs your credit card information for use in making unauthorized purchases. Ensure the safety of online purchases by adding anti-spam and anti-malware software to your computer or laptop.

If you feel you have been a victim of a scam with your credit cards or through other means, contact your local police. To stay on top of scams and cons, visit the Federal Trade Commission website (www.ftc.gov) where you can:

  • receive the most up-to-date information about the Equifax breach;
  • file a fraud complaint; or
  • sign up for fraud alerts in your area.

Sources: Moneycrashers.com, Bankrate.com, FTC.gov

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