How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Scams

How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Scams

You may do everything you can to improve your credit score, which can make it easier to qualify for low-interest rates on future loans and enjoy other perks. Even if you aren't concerned about your credit score, you still do not want to become the victim of an avoidable scam.

I've fallen victim a few times, and let me tell you, it's not a good feeling, leaving you vulnerable, scared, and worried that it may happen to you again.

In either situation, you want to make yourself aware of credit card scams that can put you, your identity, and your credit report in danger. Below are credit card scams to watch out for.

Interest Rate Reduction Scam 

Maybe you're tired of losing money to interest rates and want to reduce your rates as much as possible to get out of debt faster. You may get a call about an interest rate reduction service designed to help you accomplish your goal.

There is a fee to enroll in the program, but it seems as if it could be worth it. What makes this scheme so nefarious is that it may seem as if the call comes from your credit card provider, and the person on the other end may even have some of your credit card account information.

In actuality, what happens is that you pay the fee without seeing a change to your credit card rates.

The way to avoid becoming a victim of this particular scam is to make sure that you're signed up to be part of the National Do Not Call Registry. Whenever you receive calls like this out of the blue rather than initiate them yourself, there's a higher likelihood that it's a scam, so you're better off hanging up the phone without saying anything.

Also, just because the person on the other end has your credit card information does not mean that information is confirmed. Keep in mind that scammers may need additional information, such as your PIN, for their financial misdeeds.

Confirm Your Info for Your New Chip Card

Chip cards are supposed to increase security and peace of mind, but criminals can use them to compromise your security. With this particular scam, you receive an email noting that you need to update your personal information before you can get your new chip card. Once you voluntarily click a link and share your information, you provide scammers with details they need to steal your identity.

Bear in mind that reputable credit card companies do not ask customers through an email to update their personal information; you're better off doing so directly on the company's site. Commonly, you don't have to take any extra steps when it comes to getting a new chip card, your credit card issuer sends you one automatically.

Fake Fraud Alerts

Typically, you want your credit card company to reach out to you to alert you of potential fraud. Unfortunately, modern hackers have learned how to take advantage of this safety measure.

With fake fraud alerts, you get a call from someone posing as a representative from your credit card company asking if you used your card in a random state. Thinking the person is calling about potential fraud, you may not hesitate to provide the "representative" with your three-digit card code or billing zip code so that she or he can verify your information.

Even if the call is actually from your credit card company and there is a chance that someone has made fraudulent charges to your account, you should hang up and call the number on the back of your credit card to follow up with the potential fraud.

If the representative is genuinely from your card issuer, then she or he won't mind (and will probably appreciate) your caution. To better guard against genuine fraud, you may want to look into tools for managing credit.

Credit Card Skimmers 

Now, this is how scammers got me!

Do you commonly use outdoor ATMs or convenience store ATMs or pay for gas at the pump? If so, double-check that the credit card reader isn't a skimmer. These devices look like regular credit card readers, but they steal the information stored on your card's magnetic stripe when you swipe it.

Touching back on chip cards, new cards are designed to help combat the use of skimmers, but you may not always have the option of using a chip reader.

Before using an outdoor/convenience store ATM or paying at the pump, take a moment to examine the credit card reader. If anything looks off, such as the keyboard doesn't fit the design of the rest of the ATM, do not use it.

You can also give the card reader a gentle tug to see if it comes off; sometimes, scammers place skimmers over the original card reader. At the gas station, you're always better off going inside to pay rather than paying at the pump.

Sure, it's a few more steps, but it's better than becoming the victim of identity theft, which involves several more steps compared to going inside to pay for gas.

Hotel Front Desk Calls

Surely scammers wouldn't bother impersonating a hotel desk clerk to steal your credit card information, right?

Times have changed, and so have criminals.

You may be on vacation or a business trip and get a call on your room phone from someone claiming to be from the front desk. Something's gone wrong with the hotel's computer system, and you need to give your credit card information again. Not thinking anything of it, you may comply.

Unfortunately, you may have just willingly given up your personal information to a scammer.

Going back to the fake fraud alerts mentioned above, always exercise the utmost level of caution when someone calls you requesting your credit card information.

For the hotel front desk scam, hang up the phone and physically walk down to the front desk to see what's up. If you can't head down to the front desk, you can hang up the call and contact the front desk yourself.

Should you be subject to any of the above scams, be sure to document every detail possible surrounding the issue. While your credit score may drop drastically for some time, the major credit bureaus and credit card companies are surprisingly compassionate when it comes to fraud and identity theft. It may take some time, but there are multiple ways in which to remove these negative credit issues from your credit report to get your credit back on track in a timely manner.

Constant vigilance is a necessity when it comes to protecting your credit card information and your identity. With some of the preventative measures mentioned above, you may feel that you're being overly cautious, but there's no such thing when there's so much at stake. Use the above tips to head an unnecessary disaster off at the pass.

Do you have any tips to share to avoid credit card scams?

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