4 ways to avoid credit card fraud


Most people know not to disclose card numbers over the phone and to keep your mailbox secure, but there are four more ways to avoid credit card thieves. To do so, you need to know four main things:

The Credit Card Thief Isn’t the One Using Your Card

You may be wondering why illegal purchases on your card come from other countries, like Japan, Poland, Germany, etc. This doesn’t mean the person who stole your card came from that country or travelled there.

Most credit card thieves do not use the cards they steal, because the risk of being caught is too high. Instead, they will compile a list of card numbers stolen, and then sell the list to other criminals on illegal marketplaces.

As such, the person who stole your credit card number may be in Singapore, but the eventual illegal purchases might happen anywhere else in the world.

On top of this, stolen credit cards are often used to purchase intangibles, such as access to pornographic websites, alternative currencies like Bitcoin, or online game currencies.

This combination of geographic distance, along with anonymous purchases, can mean the bank is unable to trace the card user. It’s not like on TV shows, where the police locate the criminal the moment your card is illegally used.

How to Avoid This:

Don’t leave your card lying around, and assume transactions can be quickly traced or prevented. Always respond to a lost card – or a suspicious transaction – by immediately suspending or cancelling it.


Many Credit Cards are Stolen Due to Poor Disposal

For the past few decades, the main method of identity theft has not changed. It simply involves digging through your trash. In some cases, this means trash from your bank; although most banks have stringent rules about their garbage.

When thieves find a useful detail about you – for example, your telco service and account number – they have a valid disguise. They can call pretending to be your telco, or even call a store you bought from and pretend to be you. For example,  they might claim the store double charged you, and sneak in a question like “What is the credit card number that appears on your end?”

How to Avoid This:

Always be extra careful when disposing of trash with sensitive information. Shred it if your office has a shredder. Otherwise, just rip it up to prevent it being read.


Your Credit Card Number Can Be Stolen Through Fake WiFi Hotspots

The thieves set up a free wi-fi zone, with a deceptive name like “Changi Airport Wi-Fi” (it usually matches the place).

When you mistake it as the free wi-fi zone and log on, the thieves can hack into your phone. Once they have access, they can control everything from your social media accounts, to purchases in stores where you have previously saved your credit card information.

How to Avoid This:

To prevent this, always double check that you’re connecting to a legitimate network. Also, avoid saving your credit card details on any particular website (remember that the website may itself be hacked, through no fault of your own).


“Skimming” is an Old-Fashioned Method That’s Still Being Used

Skimming is when your card is placed in a false reader that copies its details. This used to occur around ATM machines, where thieves would fit skimmers in the card slots (this is largely prevented today by ATM security locks).

These days, skimming tends to happen when thieves masquerade as waiters, room service delivery, bartenders, etc. When you give them your card, they’ll swipe it on the skimmer to get the details, before swiping it on the real credit card machine.

How to Avoid This:

The easiest way to prevent this is to not let the card out of your sight. Follow the waiter to the cashier, for example, instead of letting him take the card.When inserting your card into any machine, check that nothing unusual is fitted around the card reader. This could be a skimmer, and you should use another machine to be safe.

This story was first published on Singsaver.