Finding the best credit card fraud protection methods for you
November 06, 2023
Credit cards often symbolize financial freedom — but a less-fun aspect is the safety threat they introduce.
And unfortunately, as credit card access increases, so too do the methods by which hackers can access this sensitive information. Luckily, this isn’t an unheard-of issue, and several credit card fraud protection strategies exist to protect your information and thwart threats.
What’s credit card fraud?
Credit card fraud is the unauthorized use of someone's physical card or card details to make purchases or access funds. Fraudsters might steal details from a fake shopping site or via a skimming device at an ATM, making small purchases at first to see whether you notice. If the card isn’t rejected after a few of these “tests,” they’ll make larger transactions.
How does credit card fraud happen?
Fraudsters constantly evolve tactics to exploit new potential vulnerabilities. Here are a few of the most common ways someone might steal credit card information today:
Skimming: Criminals attach skimmers to ATMs or point-of-sale (POS) terminals to capture and store all the details on your card's magnetic stripe.
Phishing: Masquerading as reputable organizations, fraudsters use fake emails, websites, and phone calls to trick people into revealing card details.
Carding: This involves the unauthorized use of stolen credit card data for online purchases, often facilitated through illegal online marketplaces.
Physical theft: Physical card theft remains a straightforward method for fraudsters to misuse your funds.
Mail theft: Criminals steal credit card statements, new cards, or other sensitive information directly from your mailbox.
Data breaches: Large-scale data breaches can result in millions of credit card details being stolen from compromised systems.
Wi-Fi eavesdropping: Unsecured public Wi-Fi networks can expose your credit card information to eavesdroppers.
Spyware/Malware: Hackers might install malicious software on your device, which captures and transmits card details to them.
Typical credit card fraud signs
Quickly detecting credit card fraud is crucial to minimizing the damage. Here are several tell-tale signs your card has been compromised:
Unexpected account statement totals
Credit report discrepancies
Calls from debt collectors or creditors
What type of credit card fraud is most common?
Card-not-present (CNP) fraud is one of the most common types. Here’s more on this method and several others worth avoiding:
Counterfeit card fraud occurs when someone creates a fake card using details from a legitimate one.
Lost or stolen card fraud involves someone using a credit card they find.
CNP fraud occurs during transactions where the card is not physically presented, like online or over the phone.
Identity theft involves stealing someone’s personal information to open new credit accounts in their name without their knowledge.
Account takeover means fraudsters gain access to and control a legitimate account by changing the address and making unauthorized purchases.
Preventative measures for avoiding credit card fraud
The best protection is prevention — here are several tips for getting ahead of fraudsters and robustly safeguarding your sensitive information:
Regularly monitor your accounts: Routinely check general account and credit card statements for unfamiliar transactions.
Use secure networks: Avoid conducting transactions over unsecured public Wi-Fi networks.
Enable alerts: Set up transaction alerts from your bank regarding any unusual activity.
Shield your personal identification number (PIN): Always cover the keypad when entering your PIN at ATMs or in POS terminals.
Use IronVest’s masked cards: Easily create and autofill virtual cards for online purchases with the IronVest browser extension.
Keep software updated: Ensure your device's software, antivirus, and anti-malware programs are current to protect against new threats.
Be wary of phishing scams: Be cautious when receiving unsolicited requests for your credit card information online or over the phone.
Opt for two-factor authentication (2FA): Wherever possible, enable 2FA for an extra layer of security.
Report lost or stolen cards immediately: Report missing cards immediately — no harm done if you find your card later, but this measure protects your accounts in case it’s stolen. You might even look into how to report credit card fraud at your banking institution before anything occurs for quicker action if something happens.
What to do if your credit card information is stolen
If you fall victim to credit card fraud, act quickly:
Contact your card issuer and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the fraud, freeze your account, and order a new card.
File a police report for an official record of the theft.
Monitor your accounts and credit score for unusual activity and update your security settings.
Document all communications regarding the fraud for future reference.
Secure your financial safety with IronVest
Credit card fraud is a significant concern — one that you can substantially minimize with IronVest. Our masked cards are a secure alternative that helps you prevent credit card fraud across all online transactions. And our personal security and privacy-focused super app takes a comprehensive approach to data security, offering all-encompassing protection across all online activity with biometric password protection, masked emails, masked phone numbers, and virtual cards. Get IronVest today to enjoy a more secure digital life tomorrow.