Cyber criminals and malicious scammers are constantly at work to devise new ways to steal confidential user data. Unfortunately, such attacks are not just restricted to the Internet. A recently discovered spate of attacks enables scammers to steal credit/debit card details and these methods are increasingly carried out in the physical world.
In brief, here are the 5 most common places from where credit/debit card data can be stolen:
- Restaurants and retail stores
- Online shopping portals
- Hacked email accounts
- ATM machines
- Thieves and pickpockets
Restaurants and retail stores
Some scammers have devised ways to tamper with the card readers at retail stores. Malicious smart cards that look like legitimate cards are created and then inserted into the machines to make a payment. However, the machine simply says than an error has occurred and the retail store merchant is unaware of the damage that has been done. When a genuine payment is made with a valid card over the same machine in the future, the details of that card get recorded. Now the scammer revisits the store after a day or two and inserts the fraudulent card into the machine to make another seemingly innocent payment. Details about all the cards that have been inserted in the interim period are now transferred into the malicious card which can be viewed by the scammer via another device.
Online shopping portals
The best online shopping portals mandatorily use secure methods to protect user details. Unsecure portals are susceptible to hackers and can easily lose data to scammers. There have been several instances where major online portals have been breached and card details have been stolen and misused. From a customers perspective it is advisable to be aware of the concept of SSL and security certificates. Additionally, the best Internet security software installed on a machine can also detect fraudulent pages and portals.
Hacked email accounts
Many people receive and pay their credit card bills via email. So if a hacker manages to gain access to an email account, he can cause a lot of trouble. It is imperative to use various tools for email protection like two-factor authentication, strong and unique passwords etc. Mail services like Gmail and Yahoo also offer other methods to check if your account has been hacked into, and these are worth exploring as well.
Theft of card data from ATM machines is known as ‘skimming’. This is accomplished with the help of simple card reading equipment and a small camera that records an individual when he punches in his PIN. Scammers also use equipment that replicates the magnetic strip of cards. However, various steps can be taken to avoid such attacks and this includes shielding your hand while typing the PIN and being aware of suspicious looking machines.
Thieves and pickpockets
Physical loss of possession of cards is the biggest risk in this scenario. It is advisable to report a card loss to the concerned bank and local authorities as soon as possible. Another noteworthy precaution is to monitor card statements and activity for any signs of malicious activity.
Credit/debit card usage is convenient yet dangerous as scammers have come up with several innovative methods to gain such information. Readers are advised to stay vigilant and follow various safety measures to remain protected.