It can happen to the best of us. Even if you were the child back in school that always covered up your answers, there was always another child that would find a way to cheat off of you. Credit card scams are not much different. You put in all this hard work — you get a good job and are mindful to pay your bills — in return, you are rewarded with having more credit available to you with higher limits. The challenge is that as your creditworthiness increases, so does the target on your wallet.
Identity thieves all across the globe are inventing new ways to gain access to your identity and credit, and they are working much harder at it than you are working at protecting yourself. The good news is that you do not have to.
Remember watching those nature shows growing up? There was always a pack of gazelles drinking at the water hole, and the camera man would quickly pan over to show you a cheetah ready to pounce. Was the objective of the cheetah to catch all the gazelles? No, they just needed one. The moral of the story is that you do not have to be the fastest gazelle, you simply need to avoid being the slowest one in the pack.
How to Detect Credit Card Scams
There is immense value in that gazelle-cheetah story as it relates to credit card scams. The gazelle can convince itself that it will never be caught by the cheetah because so far in its life, it has not even been close to being caught. The cheetah, however, is indiscriminate, and if that gazelle let its guard down, it may be next on the Savannah Lunch Menu.
So, the question is: how do you go about protecting yourself from the most common credit card scams? The answer is actually much simpler than you can imagine. The first thing to do is resolve yourself to the fact that even with your best efforts, something may occur. Once you realize that, you can move on to the next step, which is teaching yourself to be aware of the potential credit card scams that are out there. Being aware of the pitfalls that lay ahead will allow you to be better prepared to identify life’s lurking credit risks.
#1. Is That a Bear in Your Trash?
We act like our trash can is this magical place that makes everything disappear as soon as we throw it away. Unfortunately, this is not true, and it is a gold mine for identify thieves. Also known as dumpster diving, this method of credit card fraud has yielded millions of fraudulent funds for hucksters over the years.They can use anything, from utility bills to credit card receipts, to get enough information on you to either take over an account, or simply just your identity. So the next time you hear something rooting around your trash, do not assume a bear or raccoon got into your yard, assume the worst.
#2. Know Who is on the Other End of the Line.
Dialing for dollars is another tried and tested scam. Fraudsters can be very convincing in their sales pitches, and they know what will work on you. Whether they are drumming up support during the political season or trying to get help for a good cause through a charity scam, they know what heart strings to pull. Of course, like any good criminal, they will say whatever they need to just to get your credit card information.
The best approach is to only give to charity in person or through a website that you know is reputable. If you are really moved to action though, do some research before handing over your critical information.
#3. Mind Your Money.
Oftentimes, you do not have to be a participant in credit card scams. They may have come upon your information by cyber hacking or some other electronic method. In this case, the best way to identify the most common credit card scams is to be consistent and timely in checking your credit card transactions. Review your statements early and often and reconcile anything that looks out of sorts. The more quickly you identify strange events, the less expensive it will be on your bank account in the long run.
#4. Do Not Assume You are Lucky.
Another way that criminals try to steal your information is by acting like you have just won something. Trust me, Nigeria’s main export is not oil, it is credit card fraud. We have all heard stories about a disposed Prince from your family who requires your bank account information to wire you your inheritance.
While this is probably the most common one, it is not the only credit card scam today. Essentially, if you are being told you won or earned something that requires you to provide information, it is probably fraud. If it is not, your “winnings” will still be there after you do some research, so take the extra time to make sure you’re not getting duped.
#5. Do Not Open Strange Emails.
If you do not know who “TruePlaya420” is, why would want to watch a video of a dancing cat from them? When opening emails, you should first ask yourself, “would I let this person into my house?” If the answer is no, then delete the email. Why? Because credit card scammers can place viruses into tainted emails that load into your computer and capture all of your sensitive information. Data like your keystrokes when using your online banking account and passwords being entered can all be taken — basically, anything you do on your computer will be sent to credit card thieves.
The point of all this is not scare you away from using credit cards or technology as a part of your banking process, it is simply to make sure you’re mindful of the perils that exist. Take the appropriate steps to protect yourself from credit card scams and you will not be one of the gazelles at the back of the pack. If you find something suspicious, immediately report it your credit card issuer.