What Really Happens If your Credit Card Information Is Stolen?
We've all heard about stolen credit card information. While that's a serious concern, some people might not take it that seriously. However, cyber crime is at an all-time high. Some studies suggest that up to 46% of Americans have fallen victim to credit card fraud in the past five years. In a single year loses due to credit card theft could amount up to billions, which is frightening to put it lightly.
In most situations, your bank issues a notification via email, text, or a phone call to let you know about fraudulent activity with your credit card. The warning, usually, advises to perform a password reset and check all of your assets carefully. Unfortunately, quite a few users don't find out that cyber criminals got a hold of their credit card data until after it has already been used. That's so because all credit card details can be stolen silently. Fortunately, there're a few precautionary steps that you can take to secure your financial data.
In this report, we'll go into detail of how cyber criminals can steal your credit card details, what they use it for, and what steps you can take for extra security.
Ways thieves steal credit card information
These days cyber crooks need only a few moments to get a hold of your credit card information. While dumpster diving for credit cards is no longer a favorite way to get a hold of such information, there're a number of ways that thieves can steal all credit card details without a lot of trouble.
- Data Breaches
Using sophisticated hacking techniques, thieves can break into a company's data system and scrape it for information. Usually, they can gain access to your social security number, address, email, and yes - your credit card details. The recent rise in data breaches signifies that it is a technique that cyber crooks will continue to use. The recent Equifax breach is yet another horrendous example of how cyber criminals have gathered records of over 140 million users. The victims of this breach were advised to execute a password reset immediately.
Though this technique is not as popular, it is still used. A credit card skimmer is a tiny device that gathers your credit card information during a legitimate transaction. Once you swipe your credit card through a skimmer, it collects all the data that's stored in your card's magnetic stripe; it holds your full name, card number, and the expiration date. Mostly, skimmers are fixed on top of ATMs and card swipe mechanisms. Thus, it's a good idea to check the card device that you're about to use beforehand.
- Using malware
There are quite a few malicious applications that can gather data of an infected computer. However, in most instances, hackers prefer to use keyloggers. Designed to track every single keystroke, keyloggers work amazingly well. By using it, cyber crooks can get all the information that they need; your email credentials, passwords, credit card data, and other sensitive info. If any of such information is stolen, be sure to reset passwords without any hesitation. To keep your operating system secure from devious applications use a reliable antimalware tool. Also, we encourage users to secure their accounts using a password manager.
How is stolen credit card information used?
There're tons of ways to use stolen credit card information. It varies from small purchases to an outright identity theft. Though it would be impossible to list all the possible ways, we'll cover the most popular ones.
- Selling stolen credit card information
In quite a few cases hackers are not trying to use funds on your credit card; instead, they're trying to sell it on black markets to third-parties. This strategy allows cyber criminals to profit regardless of the funds on the credit card. If criminals obtain and sell login information, users should perform a password reset since that might be the fastest way to prevent identity theft.
- Making fake credit cards
Some cyber crooks have the appropriate tools to print phony credit cards on the go. In most instances, thieves use those bogus cards for purchases at physical stores, gas stations, etc.
- Buying stuff
While this seems obvious, hackers are known to make purchases, which can be turned into cash quickly; in other words, they buy stuff that's easy to sell quickly. Some reports state that nowadays cyber crooks are also likely to purchase cryptocurrencies using stolen credit card information.
What can you do to protect your credit card information from being stolen?
Sadly, not everybody is an expert on virtual security. However, there are simple, yet incredibly effective, steps that you can take to secure your credit card information and other online accounts.
- Even though it should be obvious, be sure not to leave your credit card out in the open. The same goes for putting up pictures of your credit card on your social media profiles.
- Keep an eye open for skimmers. Whenever you decide to use your card, be sure to see if there are no extra devices attached to the swipe mechanism or an ATM.
- Review your bank accounts on a regular basis. By doing so, you will be able to spot any fraudulent activity. Also, consider signing up for credit-monitoring services.
- Consider using a separate card for all your online purchases.
- Keep your passwords secret. Also, make them as complex as possible. All of this can be done easily with the help of a Cyclonis Password Manager. Furthermore, we advise you to reset passwords for every online account regularly. Though that could be an annoying procedure, this is where a password manager will help you avoid all the hassle.
- Protect your computer with a professional antimalware tool. That should be self-evident; unfortunately, quite a few users overlook the benefits of having a secure operating system.
- Be wary of phishing attacks. Always check the email address and its content for its legitimacy; otherwise, you could end up handing over all your credit card information to cyber crooks without realizing it.
- If your online bank accounts were breached, reset passwords and call your bank immediately.