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College Students are Prime Targets for Credit Card Fraud: 3 Tips to Protect Themselves

While physical theft of credit cards is always a concern, there are far more high-tech methods of credit card fraud in the modern age. Some of those methods include:

  • Skimming, which involves electronic devices which can read your card’s magnetic strip, while also snatching your card details. These can be used by dishonest clerks, installed in ATMs, or handheld devices that can scan RFID-equipped credit cards, even while inside your wallet.
  • Phishing, such as fake emails, phone calls, or letters which claim to be from your bank or other financial institution, asking for your banking information. For example, you might receive an email claiming to be a tax refund owed to you from the IRS, which directs you to an authentic-looking website which asks for bank details to deposit the funds.

Other less technical methods which are still used by criminals today include going through your discarded trash to find bank statements or credit card receipts, telemarketing scams, or dishonest retail clerks that surreptitiously copy your card details.

Protecting yourself from credit card fraud

There are several methods of keeping your card information safe, which we will detail.

#1: Install a secure antivirus and security solution

If you do a lot of online shopping, it is highly important to have a comprehensive antivirus and security software installed on your device, whether PC or mobile. This will prevent malware such as keyloggers, provide phishing email detection, warn you of fake websites, and numerous other methods of blocking credit card information theft.

For detailed comparisons of many antivirus products, you can look here.

#2: Always keep your credit cards physically safe

With how powerful phone cameras are becoming, criminals can easily snap pictures of your physical card if you have it out for too long. When presenting your card for a transaction, always try to shield it with your hand. If you’re making a withdrawal from the ATM, stand close to the ATM and shield your card (and the ATM keypad) with your body.

For example, here is a generic image from Google of a man using an ATM:

If this were a real life scenario, the man pictured is providing an easy, unrestricted view of the keypad, while holding his bank card up in the air. Always be aware of who is around you, and use your body to shield the keypad and screen while using the ATM, and palm your bank or credit card instead of grasping it between your fingers.

To prevent RFID scanners, you can purchase an RFID-blocking wallet.

#3: Be aware of data breaches

If a company that possesses your bank information on record is victim of a data breach, the criminals may now have access to your personal information. Many companies will announce if they are victims of a data breach, though sometimes it can be too late, as the companies try to avoid a PR backlash and minimize the damages.

If any online service you’ve done transactions with announces they’ve been a victim of data breaching, you should immediately change your passwords, and alert your bank to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity. It helps to follow a website which reports the latest known data breaches.

Other ways to stay safe

  • Shred any documents that contain bank or credit card information before disposal.
  • Never sign blank credit card receipts.
  • Frequently review your account activity.