As credit card security gets more sophisticated, so do credit card thieves. What was once simply a matter of stealing your wallet and using your card in a store is now a high-tech and ever-evolving criminal operation. Being aware of how thieves steal sensitive data can protect you from becoming a victim.
Credit Card Skimming
One way thieves steal your credit card information is by hacking into retail websites or even your own accounts to access card numbers and passwords. While this requires a level of expertise, almost anyone can get a hold of a credit card skimmer and steal your data when you use your card. A skimmer is a small device that thieves attach to the magnetic strip reader so that when you swipe your card through it you are inadvertently allowing them to record your data. This is often done at gas stations and ATM machines where a salesperson is not in view of the card reader, but it may also be done by waitstaff in restaurants or store clerks who take your card from you to scan it. Skilled thieves can skim your card right in front of you and you don’t notice it happening. Once the thief has your information, he can make a new card or simply use the information to make an online purchase.
Avoiding Skimming Scams
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of a skimmer is to be very cautious about where you use your card. Never assume a point of sale is safe. Taking the following steps can also protect you:
Check every credit card statement. You may not know your information has been stolen until charges you didn’t make appear on your statement. Make sure you recognize all the charges on your statement and call your bank immediately about any strange charges.
Look for skimmers. While thieves do a good job of hiding them, you can sometimes identify a skimmer on a gas pump or ATM. Look for loose parts, false fronts, or anything that seems suspicious.
Get a card with a chip. New credit and debit cards with chips protect consumers by encrypting data. No skimmer has yet been developed that can steal data from a chip, but keep in mind that all chip cards still also have a strip and that leaves your data vulnerable.
Checking Your Credit Report
If your credit or debit card data was stolen and you have resolved the issue with your card provider, be sure to follow up by requesting a copy of your credit report. If false information remains on one of your credit reports and you have requested a correction, the credit reporting agency is obligated to work with you to correct it. If you are having trouble getting false information removed from your credit report, contact The Consumer Law Group, P.C. through the link on this page.