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How Credit Card Fraud Works and How to Stay Safe

It’s common knowledge to keep your credit card safe from fraud, but how does it work? How do hackers get your card details in the first place?

Let’s explore how scammers do credit card frauds, and how you can stay safe.

How Hackers Get Your Credit Card Number

For a scammer to do credit card frauds, they first need all the necessary details. There are several ways they can get these details, and they range from the very basic to the more technologically complex.

Getting Details via Phishing

Phishing is an old strategy that is still effective today. The scammer gets in touch with you via phone or email, usually posing as your credit card issuer. From here, they can talk you into giving them your credit card information.

It sounds like something you’d be able to spot right away, but some phishers are very skilled. This is very similar to the tactic that was used in the British phone-hacking scandal a couple of years ago. Thankfully, you can learn how to spot a phishing email

How to Spot a Phishing Email

How to Spot a Phishing Email

Catching a phishing email is tough! Scammers pose as PayPal or Amazon, trying to steal your password and credit card information, are their deception is almost perfect. We show you how to spot the fraud.
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, so be sure to study up before you become a victim!

Gleaning Details From Database Leaks

Scammers also get credit card details from online data breaches.  Hackers have successfully breached big-names like Target, Home Depot, and the PlayStation Network in the past. These companies tend to have saved payment information listed under each customer, which scammers can use for fraud.

The numbers stolen from those sites often end up on “carding” shops, where people go to buy stolen credit card numbers for use online. ZDNet mentions how some accounts sell for as little as $5 on the dark web. This makes it easy for thieves to buy hundreds of cards at a time, potentially including yours.

Monitoring Your Inputs With Keyloggers

If a hacker manages to get a keylogger or another type of malware installed on your computer, they could quickly steal your credit card information when you use it for online shopping. The silent nature of keyloggers makes them particularly nasty, so be sure to protect yourself against keyloggers as much as possible.

Forging Payments Using NFC Skimming

Someone paying for goods using the NFC on a credit card.
Image Credit: AllaSerebrina/DepositPhotos

These days, credit cards have NFC scanning built-in. NFC is also known as “contactless,” and it’s when you place the card up against the payment terminal to buy something.

Scammers can use devices that act like these payment terminals. When they pass close by to someone with a credit card in their pocket, the skimmer makes a fraudulent payment to the card. The victim may not even realize this has happened until they notice odd fees on their statement.

How Scammers Use Your Credit Card

Once a thief has your credit card, the hardest part is complete. Now all they need to do is use it or sell it on. The credit fraud they choose depends on their ulterior motive behind why they stole the details in the first place.

Making Contactless Payments

Contactless payments with cards don’t require PINs or signatures, so they’re perfect for credit card thieves. Even though the limits for contactless payments are rather small, they add up quickly. Online payments don’t require PINs or signatures ether, so going on an Amazon shopping spree with a stolen card is remarkably easy.

Fortunately, there are constraints for the scammer. The upper limit of a credit card will stop them from spending too much. On top of this, credit cards typically allow a set amount of contactless payments before it asks for a PIN. These restrictions mean the scammer can perform only a small shopping spree before they’re locked out without a PIN.

Selling the Card Online

If the hacker doesn’t want to “dirty their hands” with a stolen credit card, they sell the details online. These credit card markets thrive on the dark web, where all kinds of identifying information is up for sale. Sellers need to keep their practices under wraps to protect their business from law enforcement, and the dark web gives them the protection they need to operate.

Buying and Flipping Goods

A range of different gift cards.
Image Credit: dennizn/DepositPhotos

If the hacker has enough information to make large purchases with the cards, they can buy goods and sell them on the black market. This is safer for them, as it hides their tracks better than if they transferred money directly into their bank account.

Scammers will typically buy gift cards. They can then sell these cards on the black market for less than face value. For instance, a $100 gift card will sell for $60. This makes them highly desirable for buyers and gives the scammer a way to wash their hands of the evidence.

How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud

There’s a lot a scammer can do with a credit card. As such, it’s important to keep yours secure. By following a few guidelines, you can decrease the chances you’ll encounter credit card fraud.

Don’t Share Credit Card Information Freely

First, don’t share your card information over the phone or in an email. Credit card companies, banks, and stores won’t randomly ask for your credit card information. If someone asks for them out of the blue, exercise extreme caution. If you need to share your information over the phone, be sure that no one is around to overhear you.

Keep Track of Data Breaches

Second, pay attention to online security news. If a service you use suffers a database breach and leaks payment information, contact your bank immediately.

You could wait to see if you get any suspicious charges on your account before alerting your bank, but this is risky. For example, ABC News reported on how the Bank of America fraud department can be hard to convince that a scam occurred in the first place. Waiting for fraud to happen may result in lost money that you have to wrestle back.

Protect Your Card’s RFID

Third, consider buying an RFID-blocking wallet

What Is an RFID-Blocking Wallet? (And Which Should You Buy?)

What Is an RFID-Blocking Wallet? (And Which Should You Buy?)

If you have cards, passports, or devices with RFID chips, then an RFID-blocking wallet could be important for keeping your data safe.
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, so your card is protected while it’s in your pocket. By blocking RFID signals, the wallet prevents any device from reading the information on your card until you take it out to use it.

Double-Check Payment Points

Fourth, be careful with where you insert your credit card.  Scammers can operate at ATMs, pay-at-the-pump gas stations, small stores, and restaurants. If the payment terminal looks weird somehow, use another method to pay. Make cash withdrawals from within your bank, pay at the counter when you buy gas, and don’t let your card out of your sight.

Keep Tabs on Your Records

Finally, make sure to monitor your credit card statements, bank statements, and credit reports. The earlier you catch a potentially fraudulent transaction, the better. These days, you can get a credit report for free without harming your score. This makes it easier to spot any weird purchases and quickly report them.

Staying Safe With Payment Cards

Credit cards are a hot commodity for scammers. From small NFC skims to large-scale gift card selling, there are multiple ways they can make use of your details. Keep them safe to avoid headaches in the future!

You now know not to trust a phishing call, but can you trust your browser with your credit card information

Can You Trust Your Browser With Credit Card Information?

Can You Trust Your Browser With Credit Card Information?

Shopping online and tempted to save your credit card information in your browser? Here’s why you might not want to do that.
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How Often Should You Check Your Credit Score? – LifeSavvy

a tablet computer with a credit score portal visible on a desktop covered in office supplies

When you’re on a mission to get your credit score up a few points so you can make a big purchase, it’s tempting to check your credit score every day. Unfortunately, you’re only going to make yourself crazy. Here’s how score updating works and how often you should take a peek.

Credit Bureaus don’t require creditors to report their information by a specific day each month, and many lenders submit batches of information to one or more credit reporting agency once per month, which slows down processing. Credit reporting agencies update the information regularly but knowing the exact day the change will show up on your score is nearly impossible.

If you have a free credit score report with your credit card company or loan company, that number is likely only updated once a month as well, so checking more often could lead to frustration.

Rapid Rescoring

If you need your credit score updated quickly (because you’re trying to get a loan), you may be able to get a rapid rescoring. A lender (like a mortgage broker) has to request the rapid rescore for you. There may be a fee for this service, but the credit reporting agency can update your score in days instead of weeks.

Where to Check Your Credit Score

Many people don’t know their credit score isn’t part of the credit report. While federal law requires credit reporting agencies to provide you free access to your credit report at least once per year, they are not required to provide your credit score.

If you want to access your credit score free, you have a few options, including your credit card company. Some companies offer access to your credit score free. The number is usually updated once per month. You can check if your lender offers this by logging into your account online or calling their customer service number.

Another option is to utilize one of the free credit score services like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. Both services offer email updates if something new appears on your credit score and they offer tips for improving your score. My husband and I signed up for both, and we also have a free credit score with our credit card account. We’ve noticed that there can be a significant difference between the scores you get from Credit Karma or Credit Sesame, and the number a lender shows you.

If you’re planning to apply for a major loan (like a mortgage or a car loan), consider talking with the lender beforehand to find out which scoring system they use. Chatting with your lender in advance can help ensure your score aligns with the system the lender uses.

You can also see your credit score if a lender approves or denies you access to credit based on your credit score information. Lenders are required to notify you why they made the decision they did. Your credit score will be included in the disclosure letter they send you.

If you’d prefer to get your number straight from the horse’s mouth, you can purchase your score from any of the three credit reporting agencies or FICO.

While raising your credit score may seem like an emergency, it’s a bit like baking bread. It takes a little time to rise. So be patient, and stay focused on making smart financial decisions in the meantime.

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Zendure Unveils Credit Card-Sized SuperMini 10,000mAh Power Bank

When you think a bit of technology isn’t going to evolve anymore, someone finds a way to change it up. For standard wired power banks, there’s not much else that can change, as they’re already pushing the limits of battery capacities.

However, the team behind a new power bank called the SuperMini actually found a way to squeeze a 10,000mAh battery into a package that’s smaller than other ones out there. That means you’ll get a high capacity in a package that’s about the size of a credit card (albeit quite a bit thicker than one).

SuperMini Power Bank Features

The main thing that makes SuperMini stand out is its physical size. It’s 3.1-inches long, 2.2-inches wide, and 1-inch deep. In addition to being quite small, it’s also pretty light, tipping the scales at 6.35oz. It’s about an inch smaller than typical 10,000mAh power banks on the market in terms of length, which makes it quite a bit easier to carry around in a pocket.

As far as outputs, there’s both USB-C and USB-A, and both feature 18W of power delivery. In about 30 minutes, the battery pack can charge an iPhone XS to about 50%, which is pretty solid. Additionally, the battery itself will reach a full charge in about three hours, so you won’t have to wait too long to get it back on the go.

That 10,000mAh capacity will get you about 2.8 iPhone XS charges, .8 iPad Pro charges, 2.5 Galaxy S9 charges, and 1.7 Nintendo Switch charges.

SuperMini Price and Availability

The team behind SuperMini is seeking funding on Indiegogo. Backers who want to preorder a power bank can do so for a minimum pledge of $34. When the chargers hit the market, the team plans to have a retail price of $79, so it’s quite a bit cheaper. Of course, you’re shouldering a bit of risk when backing a crowdfunding project

3 Things to Consider Before Backing a Kickstarter Project

3 Things to Consider Before Backing a Kickstarter Project

Before you back your first or next Kickstarter project, here are a few things to keep in mind if you don’t want to get scammed or waste your money.
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, so that’s the tradeoff for getting the power bank at a lower price.

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Memory-Lane Monday: For once, credit where it’s due

Pilot fish gets a job at an electronic cash register company, where he’s been assigned to put parts in little plastic bags for the people who solder the circuit boards. He applied to be a programming intern, but HR said he wasn’t qualified.

Fish is good at his assigned job, but bored. Especially on Friday afternoons.

“The computer we used in the parts cage had to run weekly inventory reports,” explains fish. “The reports took about four hours to run every Friday, and pretty much shut the parts cage down because we were not allowed to kit components without first entering them into the computer, and the PDP-11 couldn’t multitask.”

But why should one report take all afternoon? Fish talks his boss into letting him look at the inventory software — which, it turns out, is written in interpreted Basic.

Fish inserts a few “got here at HH:MM:SS” debug lines to tell him how the run is progressing, and he quickly determines that, for all but five minutes of the four-hour run, the program is re-sorting the transaction history file. And with tens of thousands of records, the bubble-sort algorithm that the program uses is, well, slow. A few dozen lines of code later, fish has implemented a more elegant sort.

“That Friday, when my boss kicked off the usual report at noon, the printer started dumping the report at 12:10 instead of approximately 4 p.m.,” fish says.

Her first thought is that fish broke the inventory software, but after she goes over the report and realizes it’s correct, she starts to show real gratitude.

First, she gives fish a big hug and congratulations. Then boss walks him down to management row, where she gives fish full credit for his initiative and success in fixing the program — being sure to note that the manufacturing line will no longer have a partial shutdown on Fridays.

Then she tells the big bosses that, while she’ll be sad to see fish leave her department, he belongs in software development.

Finally, she explains the real reason she has come to management row: Fish has just earned a bonus that’s larger than she’s authorized to grant.

“The best part of the day, I think, was getting escorted to HR,” says fish, “and having the same woman who said I wasn’t qualified to be a programmer cut me a big fat check that was no doubt more than she made all summer, and doing the paperwork that put me into firmware development, with my own office.”

Sharky loves a happy ending. Be they happy or not, send me your true tale of IT life at [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Soon every credit card will be like Apple Card

Apple’s plan to transform the world of credit cards in the image of Apple Card seems to have progressed further than anyone might have thought, thanks to a top-secret project with Mastercard…

Innovate everything

The news is that Apple, Goldman Sachs and Mastercard have been quietly working together to make similar technologies available for use by other card issuers.

Payments Source claims the project has been ongoing for 18-months and means banks will be able to use Mastercard’s system to offer digital-only cards.

Managed using apps, these will supplemented by physical versions that – like Apple Card – dispense with CVC and PAN numbers and carry no user information. 

This doesn’t mean every bank will introduce such cards, but those who do choose to do so will get to begin doing so in six months’ time, the report claims.

Unique selling points

That every card issuer will eventually offer these app-savvy digital cards was never in much doubt. The success of these things from digital fintech challengers such as Revolut make such moves inevitable.

Mastercard’s decision to develop digital technologies to enable card issuers to introduce Apple Pay-like credit cards means the focus for card issuers will also change.

It won’t just be about reward schemes and card design, app integration, engaging tools and useful add-on services will all see rapid evolution as card issuers, including Apple, seek to develop unique sales propositions to tempt target markets.

Within that context, Apple’s software development skills, passionate user base and market size constitute significant advantage.

Apple Health

Apple will inevitably focus on app integration and related services built around its Apple Card provision, and this makes it highly probable the company will now seek other financial offers in which its technologies can be used to innovate customer relationships and delivery.

Health, insurance, savings vehicles and payment services (Apple Pay Cash) seem to be reasonable areas for future experiment and expansion.

That focus on health could even see the company pivot into other emerging industries  – concierge services, coworking spaces, even health clubs.

Apple has the cash to invest billions in steady expansion of its retail spaces, so it certainly has the potential to reinvent what those retail spaces actually do – enhancing its FAANG-war survivability while it does.

Down to earth

What’s happening in this phase of the digital transformation of everyday life is that almost every element is becoming part of the gig economy.

Airbnb, Uber and ride-sharing schemes illustrate the way many products and services will soon be made available.

Want to secure office space, communication and collaboration facilities, provision and deploy managed digital mobile numbers to a global network of employees and create a payroll, accounting and financial services to support the company you create?

There will be an app for that.

This is the kind of fundamental shift in how we live that Apple and others have both enabled through development of the core technologies underpinning such changes and also hope to profit from by offering hardware, software and services designed to feed the needs of that change.

Watch the puck

This may seem like quite a lot of prediction to make on the back of the Apple, Goldman Sachs, Mastercard Apple Card tech project, but if you aren’t already looking to where the puck is going then you’ve probably already lost the game.

What makes this more interesting is that Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, first began visualizing an Apple-branded credit card back in 2004.

Former Apple creative director Ken Segall revealed this in early 2019, claiming Jobs’ vision would reward card users with iPoints, which could be spent on iTunes tracks.

15-years later, Apple rewards Apple Card users with 3% cashback when purchasing Apple hardware, products or services. Eventually it seems possible the cash back on your Apple product purchases will become a means of exchange for your next ride in your friendly neighbourhood Apple Car.


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