Credit Card Fraud and YOU: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

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It’s no secret: Cybercriminals continue to be a threat to information that was once considered private.  Whether the threat is from a group or within an organization, breaches are no longer a matter of “if”, but rather “when”.

According to the Trustwave® 2013 Global Security Report, here is what cybercriminals targeted most in 2013:

Customer Records (Payment Card Data, Personally Identifiable Information, E-Mail Addresses) – 96%

Confidential Information & Intellectual Property– 2%

Electronic Protected Health Information – 1%

Business Financial Account Numbers – 1%


The primary data type targeted by attackers was cardholder data.  There is a well-established underground marketplace for stolen credit card data and numbers can be bought, sold, and used very quickly.  So what does this mean to you, as an individual, and what can you do to avoid becoming a victim of credit card fraud?  Don’t be paranoid, but be aware.  Here are some other helpful tips:

  1. Shop with companies that you know and that have a solid reputation.  Always determine the company's return and refund policy before you place an order.
  2. Create strong passwords.
  3. Never give your credit card information via email. It will not be secure.
  4. Never lend credit cards to someone else or write down the numbers on a piece of paper.
  5. Never give a credit card number over the telephone, unless you have initiated the transaction and know without a doubt that the business you have called is reputable.
  6. Never sign a blank receipt.  Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total and keep copies of your receipts to compare with the transactions on your monthly billing statements.
  7. Review credit card statements every month.  Contact your creditor in writing about any questionable charges as soon as you notice them.
  8. Be cautious if you're asked to provide personal information, such as your Social Security Number. It is rarely necessary and should raise a red flag.
  9. When making a payment over the Internet, use only a secure web browser.  Watch for the lock icon and/or “https” in the address bar.  These can indicate that your payment information will be encrypted (scrambled) in transit.
  10. Keep your eye out for scams. If something doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts.