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Credit Card eZine - News and Articles about Credit Cards

Credit Card eZine - News and Articles about Credit Cards

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Why Your Credit Card Got Hacked

[February 8th, 2015]

It may have happened to you: you get a call from your credit card issuer asking if you recently spent money in a state where you don’t live. Or maybe you get an email alerting you to a possible fraudulent transaction. They ask if you were you shopping at a department store in Chicago at a time when you know you were on your couch in Brooklyn, watching TV in your pajamas.

Your credit card has been hacked. The sinking feeling in your stomach is followed by outrage: how did this happen? Before you vow to cut up all your credit cards and be cash-based for the rest of your life, or start plotting your revenge on the person who used your credit card to go on a shopping spree, wait a few minutes and calm down. This is a common occurrence, and not the end of the world. Chances are good that your bank or credit card issuer will fully restore the money to your account, cancel the card, and issue you a new one within a short period of time.

It’s a pain to have to change your payment information for any automatic payments that are made with that card. The hassle of getting hacked is usually the worst part. To avoid it in the future, think about how your information may have been compromised. Here are some of the most common things that lead to credit card fraud, and how to avoid them.

Modified card readers. Sometimes thieves switch out the credit card readers at stores with ones that are modified to collect credit card data. In this case, the store salespeople are completely unaware that they are compromising the credit card data of customers. The only way to completely avoid this is to pay with cash. If you trust the place where you are shopping, you should be safe—but it’s hard to be 100% sure. Target, Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, and other retailers have all been victims of huge data breaches.

Skimming salespeople. Small devices known as skimmers are employed to steal credit card data, and the sad fact is, sometimes a salesperson, server, or bartender may take your credit card out of your sight and swipe it through this little thieving device. Now they have your credit card info along with making a sale to you. To foil this trick, make sure your credit card doesn’t leave your sight. Keep your eyes on it at all times. This can be tricky at a sit-down restaurant, where credit cards are regularly taken away and brought back later. However, if you are worried about the place you are dining, pay with cash instead.

Malware online. Hackers can also install malware, or viruses, on your favorite shopping website to collect payment data. This generally happens to smaller sites that don’t have adequate security, or have let their online security certificates expire. Make sure you are shopping safely online by checking the site’s security certificate and making sure everything is up to date.

The bottom line is, there is no way to completely avoid opening yourself up to credit card fraud, but you should be aware of how it happens so you can try to lessen the chances.

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