How to Avoid Credit Card Theft

How often do you use your credit card? How many do you have, and which companies do you rely on? If you’re like the average American, you probably have around four cards in your wallet right now. It can be convenient for collecting various perks, but it also increases the chances of one of them getting swiped in a credit card scam.

In 2021, there were approximately 390,000 reported cases of credit card fraud. If yours gets stolen or otherwise compromised, it could lead to stolen funds, irreparable damage to your credit score, and even identity theft! Here’s what you can do to protect your card information, whether you’re shopping in real life or online.

The Price of Digital Payments

Every technical advancement that humans make is a double-edged sword: While daily life becomes more convenient with each step forward, it also provides more chances for cybercriminals to illegally see or steal your data. If your credit card is connected to your digital wallet, for example, then hackers don’t have to take the card from your pocket or memorize the CVC code; they might opt instead to go after a vulnerability in the storage system that houses your digital wallet’s information. If your phone gets stolen, and you don’t have a PIN, that would be another way for a criminal to access your bank funds illegally (doubly so if you don’t sign out of your banking app after each use!).

How often do you use NFC during the day, too? Near-field communication, colloquially shortened to NFC, are those transactions you make by “tapping” your phone or card near the payment processor, instead of swiping or inserting a chip. If the payment processor were to be compromised in any way, a hacker might be able to view and steal your payment data.

Protect YOUR Card from Thieves!

Being careful can only get you so far. Sooner or later, you’ll lose focus for a second or someone will devise a crafty enough trap to trip you up. At that point, you had better hope that your accounts are secure enough to withstand their attempts to break in! Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires several forms of identification to let you into an account, for example, in addition to a password you might sign in with a one-time passcode (OTP) connected to an authenticator app, SMS messages or emails; face or fingerprint scans, or voice recognition; a PIN or whatever other kind of MFA your banking apps can set up.

If you have multiple credit cards, you should ALWAYS use different log-in credentials for each one. A hacker might sacrifice one, but that doesn’t have to spell danger for all of your other cards, too! You can better ensure your banking information’s safety by…

  • avoiding public WiFi, where anyone can spy on your browsing
  • immediately updating software with unpatched zero-day vulnerabilities
  • don’t save your credit card numbers to your web browsers or password managers
  • downloading antivirus softwares and web scanners that notify you about unsafe sites
  • avoid suspicious links and uncharacteristic messages from your bank

When in doubt, always go directly to your preferred financial websites instead of clicking links that accompany messages pressuring you to act quickly.

Conclusion

Digital wallets, pervasive online shopping trends, near-field communication and the fast-paced world of technological invention all make using your credit cards more convenient, but it puts your financial data at risk, too. Thankfully, we can enjoy the ease of use without sacrificing our data’s security in transit and storage. Your financial information is precious; take as good a care of it online as you do of the physical cards in your wallet.

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