India has witnessed an enormous rise in digital transactions in the last couple of years. The one downside of “digital India” is that it has opened the gates to umpteen online hacks, scams, and identity thefts. Yes, hackers and cybercriminals can steal your credit card information right under your nose, without you noticing! As a savvy-credit card user, you need to be aware of the ways your credit card info can be stolen.
Only when you are aware you can take the right steps to stay protected. In this guide, we share the different ways your credit card information can be stolen and smart tips on how you can prevent it.
Ways in which Your Credit Card Information may be stolen
You may remember that recently all banks and credit card companies shifted to EMV-chip-based cards. These cards are more secure than the previous generation of magnetic-stripes based cards. When you use an EMV-chip card, it generates an OTP (one-time-password) every time you use it for a transaction. The OTP is sent to your registered mobile number, thereby providing users with a two-step authentication process.
While it’s true that EMV-chip-based cards have reduced fraudulent usage, hackers and scammers have also gotten creative when it comes to credit card theft. Let’s look at some of the popular ways in which your credit card info might be stolen.
- Data Breaches and Hacking
Let’s explain this with a simple example. Say you frequently shop at an online store. To make it convenient to complete your purchase, you have stored your credit card details on the site. This way, you don’t have to enter your card details every time you checkout. While this is a huge time-saver, it can prove costly. If a hacker(s) attacks the merchant’s server, they can steal the credit card number of all customers who have stored it on the site.
This is one of the popular ways credit card information is stolen. The hacker(s) sells your card details to other scammers who use it for digital identity thefts and other malicious purposes.
A notorious example of a data breach in recent times is the Capital One data breach of 2019. This digital attack led to tens of millions of customers having their sensitive credit card information stolen.
Smart Tip to Stay Protected: Never store your credit/debit card information on third-party sites. While online shopping, make sure to use trusted sites that have adequate security.
- Public Wi-Fi Networks
Public Wi-Fi networks like the ones you find at railway stations, airports, hotels, cafes, and other public spaces are not secure and can put you at the risk of hackers. When you enter sensitive information like bank login passwords, credit card numbers, etc., via public networks, it can be easily stolen by hackers scanning these networks.
Smart Tip to Stay Protected: To avoid this, make sure to install a VPN or use your mobile data while accessing the internet away from your home network.
- Phishing Emails
These are emails that look official – say from your bank or credit card issuer. But, the truth is that these are fraudulent messages created by scammers to steal your information. When you click on a phishing email, it takes you to a fraudulent site that looks just like your bank’s website. When you enter your login ID, password, and credit card details, it’s sent to scammers, who then steal your sensitive data.
Smart Tip to Stay Protected: Never click on suspicious-looking emails. Even if the email looks authentic, it’s not safe to click on it. If you want to access your bank/credit card account, don’t click on links. Instead, visit the actual website/app of the bank and access your account from there. Though this may take a few extra seconds, you can rest assured knowing that your info is safe.
Visiting unsafe sites can download spyware and other malware on your desktop/laptop/mobile without your knowledge. Spyware can track your keystrokes and export your sensitive information like credit card pins, banking account passwords to hackers. They then steal your identity and money using this information.
Smart Tip to Stay Protected: To avoid falling victim to spyware/malware, make sure that you have updated anti-virus software on all your devices.
- Via your Garbage
Not all credit card thefts occur digitally. Some thieves even steal your information, the old-fashioned way, by combing your garbage. The credit card bills, bank statements, and other information that you discard in the trash contain tons of information for thieves to prey on.
Smart Tip to Stay Protected: Make sure to shred any documents before you discard them. Rip them into pieces and cut old credit cards into tiny bits before discarding them.
- Skimming Devices
Skimmers are tiny devices that are added unobtrusively to legitimate card readers. There have been plenty of cases where hackers and thieves added skimmers on top of the keypad at ATMs. When an unsuspecting customer enters his/her pin during a legitimate transaction, the skimmer stores this info, which is then exploited by hackers.
Smart Tip to Stay Protected: Learning how to identify skimmer devices will help you remain vigilant and stay protected.
- Via Phone Calls and Text Messages
You would have come across news articles where tricksters cheated unsuspecting victims by posing to call from the bank/credit card company. The trickster lures an unsuspecting customer stating that he/she is calling from a bank. They then ask you to share your password, OTP, or other sensitive information for authentication purposes. Don’t be fooled by such calls and messages.
Smart Tip to Stay Protected: Remember that banks/credit card issuers will never ask you to share your OTP, pin, or password via phone/text/email. If you receive any such call, make sure to report it to your bank immediately.
Additional Tips to Stay Protected from Credit Card Hackers
Today, banks and credit card companies offer multiple ways for customers to stay protected from online hackers and scams. Here are some of the ways you can keep yourself safe online:
- Register for both SMS and email alerts – This way, whenever a transaction is made using your credit card, you receive a real-time notification. This helps you keep track of your card and report any irregularities immediately.
- Set Limits on your Card – Did you know that banks allow customers to impose geographical limits on your card? This means your card can be used only within a specific location and not elsewhere. It helps you stay protected from online hackers who reside elsewhere. Alternatively, you can also set a daily usage limit on your credit card. The card cannot be used beyond this limit. This feature helps you stay protected from large thefts.
- Easy to Block – Most banks allow credit cardholders to block their card immediately when they notice fraudulent activity. So, be aware of the number to block your card if something unexpected were to happen.
- Never write your PIN down – This is one of the biggest mistakes cardholders make. Never write your PIN, password, or other sensitive information or use an app to store them. Instead, memorise the PIN.
- Finally, check Card Statements Regularly – Checking your statements every month or once a week will help you keep track of all transactions. This way, you can monitor and report any fraudulent activity immediately.
Now that you’re aware of the ways your credit card information may be stolen and how to stay protected, it’s time to start using your credit card with confidence. If you don’t own a card or are looking for another card, check out the best credit card offers curated for you at CreditMantri. CreditMantri gives you the list of cards that are best suited to your credit profile. Compare features and pick the best card for you.
Stay aware and stay protected!