How to Prevent Your Credit Card Data From Being Stolen

Boom – your credit card data has been stolen and you don’t even realize it.  Next thing you know is you have fraudulent charges appearing on your statement and your card has been turned off.  In the digital era it is important to know how people can steal your credit card data and ways to prevent your credit card information from being stolen.

Ways Your Credit Card Data is Stolen and How To Prevent it:

Credit Card Skimming

Skimming occurs when someone you trust with your card (a waitress or bar tender) recieves your card from you, charges it in the POS terminal, then swipes it through a small device which reads the data for future use.

How To Prevent Credit Card Skimming

To prevent credit card skimming, you have a few options:

  1. Pay with Cash
  2. Use pre-paid debit cards to limit your losses
  3. Pay with a check

Hardware Switcheroo

This method of stealing credit card data actually occurs when a criminal (or criminals) performs some sort of ruse to lure away the cashier from the terminal.  When the cashier leaves, the credit card reader is swapped out with a fraudulent reader.  The criminals return the following week to swap the readers again and then have a week’s worth of credit card data.

How To Prevent Getting Your Credit Card Data Stolen via Fraudulent Hardware

This one is very difficult and really the only way to prevent this is to not pay with a credit card.  Cash or check is safe, or if the merchant offers it, using a form of NFC payment such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet could prevent an attack due to the one-time-use authorization codes.

Unmanned Credit Card Skimmers

Yet another way you can get your credit card data stolen is through the use of credit card skimmers placed on credit card readers that are unmanned.  Such locations consist of pay at the pump gas pumps and ATMs.  The criminal will install the skimmer, typically equipped with bluetooth, and will be stationed nearby so they can retrieve the data in near real-time.

How To Prevent Unmanned Credit Card Skimming

In order to prevent your data from being stolen by a credit card skimmer at an unmanned terminal, you need to be aware of the possibility and really look closely at the terminal before you swipe your card.  Does it look out of the ordinary or altered in any way?  If anything stands out, head on inside and talk to the clerk or pass it by and choose a different location.

Malware and Phishing To Steal Credit Card Data

One of the most popular ways today to steal sensitive financial data is through the use of malware, viruses and Phishing techniques.  In this scenario the criminal is using technology to steal your data or an online ruse tomake you think you are visiting a trusted site yet it is a malicious site intended to mimic a bank and lure you into handing over your data.

How To Prevent Malware and Phishing

Preventing malware attacks and phishing schemes is relatively easy.

  • Purchase virus software and keep it up-to-date
  • Do not open or click on untrusted emails
  • Verify the ssl certificate and URL before you click on it
  • If something seems strange, hop on the phone and call your bank