Finding out that you have been targeted by some type of credit card scam or fraud is extremely frustrating, to say the least. One of the easiest, yet most important things you can do to stay safe is simply educating yourself about the most prevalent types of credit card fraud. These are several of the most common.
You may think that, when it comes to credit cards, counterfeiting is unlikely to impact ordinary consumers. However, since most counterfeit credit cards are tied to real credit card information, anyone could be a victim of this type of scam. In addition, even if your personal credit card information is never compromised, if you operate a restaurant or similar small business that accepts credit cards, the possibility of unwittingly accepting counterfeit credit cards could be a serious issue for you. Although they are relatively rare, some criminals have the ability to create seemingly genuine cards, complete with color variation, holograms and the like. For example, some counterfeiters will skim the data from the magnetic strip or electronic chip of a real credit card and then transfer it to the counterfeit card.
Unfortunately, simple theft is a very common form of credit card fraud although of course, you could certainly make the case that every type of credit card fraud is some form of theft. In some cases, this type of fraud involves stealing the physical credit card, while in others it only involves stealing the credit card number. The strategies identity thieves may employ to steal a credit card or its number can be extremely simple, such as waiting in a coffee shop for someone to drop a card without realizing it, pretending to text on smartphone while waiting in line at an ATM while actually recording someone entering their PIN, fishing through people's trash to find discarded documents containing credit card numbers or even stealing the envelope containing a new credit card from the mail. However, other (less common) strategies may be quite complex, involving remote computer access or advanced equipment like fingerprint readers.
Email phishing is a type of web-based scam that can have several different purposes or goals. Stealing credit card numbers or similar sensitive financial information, however, is one of the most common. Phishers most often use emails that imitate those sent by legitimate banks and other companies. When someone clicks a link contained in the fraudulent email, however, they are not sent to the legitimate company's site; instead, they are directed to a site that will harvest their credit card number and other data.
Triangulation is somewhat similar to phishing in that it also attempts to steal credit card information via the internet. This type of scam involves a phony merchant setting up a seemingly legitimate online shopping site that offers one or more products for an extremely low price. Instead of using a legitimate, secure checkout portal, however, the scammer will ask customers to send credit card details via email, allowing him to purchase products and send them to customers using the stolen credit card numbers. Generally, each site will only operate for a brief period of time before it is shut down and a new own created in an attempt to continue stealing credit card numbers.