Credit cards are the most common payment methods used today. Known to be convenient and completely hassle-free, credit cards are now accepted at almost any place where monetary transactions happen.
However, in an attempt to cover convenience, credit card companies fail to look at the security aspect of the service. Banks and other monetary services are always working to make the service more convenient and accessible. What they fail to look at is how they can prevent the series’ of numbers written on a person’s credit card from getting stolen by thieves or hackers.
Despite being newer compared to other payment methods, Credit Cards are still older than the modern internet. With online shopping, and other such internet services at a full boom right now, credit cards don’t look to be fully equipped with the right security measures to protect users against online-shopping malice.
Convenience has allowed credit cards to become the primary tool of making payments over the web. New methods of making payments over the web have come by (PayPal, Bitcoin, etc.) but people still prefer using credit cards because they prefer convenience over security.
This has led to a situation where hackers are taking full advantage of convenience over security. The online world literally has no boundaries, and unlike any retail store, there are no security guards or policemen to protect you or your money either.
Because of this, hackers now enjoy full freedom to implement their evils so they can hack into your credit cards with ease. For this reason, they try different methods to steal as much money as they can over the internet.
There are two kinds of hackers actively attacking users on the internet: ones who think big and others who use easier methods to steal small amounts of money.
Those Who Think Big!
The ones who think big usually put all their concentration on robbing the online giants off of their data and money. They’re no different than the bandits who compile together a team full of professionals so they can rob the biggest banks in the state.
These hackers are the same people behind the Yahoo hack and other major breaches of online giants’ data.
These hackers try to find vulnerabilities in the security systems of these online giants’ database. Because you trust these companies with your credit card details, hackers can easily steal all this data once they hack into the website’s database.
While no federal law requires you to be personally notified by a company of a data-related security breach, 47 states do require personal notification (Alabama, New Mexico, and South Dakota are the exceptions).
But what’s the point of being specially notified when your data might already be lost? It’s better to be well prepared if in case major loss comes your way. Instead of waiting for a personal notification to arrive, we recommend that you follow the steps below as soon as when you hear that a major data breach has happened:
- Check your receipts and scan your memory to figure out what card or cards were used at the breached store when it was hacked.
- Immediately reset the password to the online version of that account. While this won't protect you against the unauthorized use of the card at brick-and-mortar shops, but it might help if the data thief decides to poke around in cyberspace.
- If in case you used a debit or ATM card, keep a close eye on your bank account attached to that card. Check your balance frequently for the next few weeks to for any unauthorized transactions until the authorities or your bank issues an all clear.
- When you find any unauthorized transactions, immediately notify the authorities and your bank. You must contact the card issuer within 60 days of the day the unauthorized transaction was made. Once notified, the issuer will almost certainly tell you to cut up your card and will expeditiously send you a replacement.
- If you see any unauthorized transactions, contact one of the three major credit reporting bureaus and ask them to attach a "fraud alert" to your account. The initial alert stays on your accounts for at least 90 days and will make it difficult for a thief to open more accounts in your name.
- As a precaution, go ahead and order a free copy of your credit report right now. Federal law requires major credit reporting services to provide one free copy of your credit report every 12 months. When the report arrives, check it carefully for any errors or suspicious activity.
- If in case you're individually targeted for a case of identity theft, the damage could spread to other accounts. In that case, you can ask credit reporting companies to put a freeze on your credit file. This will make it less likely for thieves to open new accounts in your name, but it can also hinder potential creditors from obtaining your credit report. Consider it as the nuclear option which should only be used under grave circumstances.
Small, but More Direct and Dangerous
Hackers who look forward to small-scale hacking over the internet use various ways to steal a person’s credit card information directly from him. They either spread dangerous malware into other people’s devices, or they set up fake online shopping websites and use phishing as a way to get inside your wallet.
Dealing with this kind of hackers requires you to be more alert and caution at all times. Using special tools, like a VPN, to ensure your anonymity and safety on the internet is also recommended.
Following the steps mentioned below will do you good in your fight against cybercrime:
- Clean-up your devices regularly
Make sure to clean-up your devices regularly and keep them equipped with appropriate defense against malware and viruses. A clean device is the best protection against malware, viruses, and other malicious software.
- Shop from reputed vendors only
Only shop from trusted websites. Malicious websites always try to lure customers by advertising fake deals with big discounts so you ignore trusted websites for once and give away your credit card information to hackers behind these websites.
- Make sure that your online activities remain encrypted
When shopping online, encryption is the best tool that you can use. Never use your credit card at a website that has no SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed.
To identify if it employs SSL or not, look at the URL on the site. If the URL starts with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://) and an icon of a locked padlock is visible right next to the URL in the address bar, that means that SSL is installed.
We also recommend that you use a VPN to ensure your online communications remain encrypted. Even if the website is unsecure, a VPN would still be there keeping your online communications safe and secure.
- Thoroughly read the terms and conditions
We do know how boring this activity may be, but reading the terms and conditions of any website is a must if you want to keep your credit card information and any other data safe.
Reading the terms and conditions will create a clear picture regarding what the company/website plans to do with your data and how carefully it plans on guarding your credit card and personal information.
- Beware of suspicious emails
A legit business will never ever email you and ask you to confirm your login credentials or your personal information. Whenever you receive any such email, contact the online merchant directly and ignore this email as best as you can.
Phishing is incredibly common these days. Make sure never to click on any links sent in strange or suspicious emails.
- Ensure public Wi-Fi security
Always be extra careful when connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Free hotspots can be hunting grounds for hackers and data thieves. They sit in coffee shops and other places where a free hotspot ca be found so they can hack into the network and access or monitor any devices connected to this network.
Learn More about Wi-Fi Security.
- Only provide relevant information
While making an online purchase, make sure to check what information is being collected while the transaction is proceeding. Do not provide any private and personal details which can be used to hack into your other accounts and steal your data.
Applying modest vigilance and employing common sense will do you good in protecting your credit card details. Make sure to employ the right tools in order to be safe on the internet.
It’s always better to practice precaution rather than suffering in the end when you find your credit card information stolen by a hacker.