Credit card fraud

There are a number of ways credit card details can be obtained falsely and used fraudulently. In order to prevent this happening to you, it’s worth knowing the main types of credit card fraud and how to protect yourself against them.

Types of fraud

  • ‘Skimming’

Also, known as counterfeit card fraud, this can occur at the point of sale terminal in retail outlets or at ATMs which have been illegally fitted with a skimming device. This device will copy your card’s data which will then be used to create counterfeit cards.

  • 'Card-not-present' fraud

Fraudsters steal your credit card details and use them to make unauthorised transactions online, by mail, or over the phone.

  • ‘Phishing'

This technique involves fraudsters sending fake emails posing as a legitimate business or person to trick you into disclosing personal information such as your credit card details.

  • 'Pharming'

Websites designed to look like official online banking sites in order to steal users’ credit card details when they use the site.

  • ID theft

Identity theft involves someone impersonating another individual by using their personal details, often to commit credit card fraud. A fraudulent application for credit could be made under the individual’s name or a genuine account might be taken over by the fraudster.

How to protect yourself against fraud

  • Do not tell anyone your PINs, login details or passwords, particularly if the request comes in the form of unsolicited emails or callers claiming to be from your bank, card provider or the police. You will never be asked for your PIN over the phone in any legitimate communication.
  • Try to shred any documents containing your personal financial information when you dispose of them.
  • Shield your PIN when using a cash machine or at the point of sale
  • If you suspect a cash machine has been tampered with illegally, do not use it and inform the bank it belongs to immediately.
  • Always be aware of what’s going on around you at a cash machine. Do not get distracted or accept help from strangers as they could be a fraudster. If your card is swallowed by the machine, contact your bank while still at the ATM if possible.
  • Do not write down your passwords, login details and PINs.
  • Only divulge your card details in a telephone transaction when you have instigated the call and are familiar with the company.
  • Register your cards with Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode.
  • Make sure websites are secure by looking for the security icon (locked padlock or unbroken key symbol, usually in the address bar or bottom right of your browser window). Ensure the URL has the ‘https’ prefix, signifying you are viewing the site on a secure server.
  • When managing your finances or shopping online, type the URL into the address bar of your browser rather than clicking on a link - it could be fake.
  • Always log out of shopping and online banking sites once you’re finished.
  • Make it a rule to never let the card out of your sight.

Following these tips will help to protect you from fraud but for a more thorough look at how to keep your card safe and secure, please see our guide to credit card security. Additionally, our guide to PIN numbers may also offer some useful information.

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