January 21, 2016. Hello, and welcome back to the Managed Blog. In last week’s post, we showed how easy it can be to have your credit card details, among other things, stolen, and the consequences that follow. Today, we will explain how you can mitigate the threat of credit card fraud. Unfortunately, there is no real way of completely halting credit card fraud. The reason being because, like the mythical Hydra, you cut off one head, two more appear; but there are ways to reduce the risk.
From a personal standpoint, there are many ways you can reduce the danger of having your credit card and PII stolen. First off, let’s talk about avoiding ATM fraud. In last week’s post, we said that ATMs have cameras installed in them for security reasons, but if hackers breach the safeguards, they can be in full control of the camera, and can see what your PIN number is by tracking your hand as you press the buttons. An easy way of thwarting this is by covering the keypad with your hand while you are typing. Now, the fraudsters can’t track the keystrokes via the camera. Another thing to look out for is the credit card slot. On most machines, there are embossed arrows underneath the slot to indicate where the card needs to go. On ATMs fitted with a skimmer, the arrows are much closer to the slot than normal machines. This can be a sign that the machine was tampered with, and fitted with a skimming device. If nothing seems out-of-the-ordinary, but you still suspect that the card slot has been fiddled with, try inserting your credit card at a slight angle. It won’t affect your transaction, but it will foil the skimmer, because it’s designed to only work properly if the card is inserted straight.
So, you have protected your PIN and credit card details while using ATMs, but what about online protection? There are ways to foil PIN pilferers and PII pinchers while on the internet. First, always be careful when opening your emails. If you receive an email with a third-party address, it’s best to either leave it alone, or delete it. It could be a phishing email. See if there is any website available for the domain that is being used to send the email, for credibility reasons. Do not open any attachments or click on any links if you are not sure if the sender is legitimate. Second, make sure you do not visit suspicious sites – they could install keylogging software and other malware undetected. Third, don’t be misled by official-sounding corporate names in emails or websites. Nowadays, scam artists operate under names that sound like those of long-standing, reputable firms.
What about protecting your details in the real world? Well, there are methods to do this too. First, check your bank statement as often as possible. Second, ask your bank to set up a system that alerts you via SMS if a purchase has been made using your credit card. Third, when using your card at gas stations, enter your PIN number yourself, instead of saying it to the attendant. Fourth, watch carefully when a salesperson at a store or waiter in a restaurant swipes your card on their machine. Make sure it is an authentic one, and that they only swipe the card once. Also, whenever possible, ask for the machine to be brought to you to enter your PIN.
The methods listed here are only a sample of the tactics you can use to protect your PII. You might find better methods out there, but remember, nothing can replace basic common sense: if something looks suspicious, either do not touch or visit it, or let the right people know of the matter quickly. Thanks for reading this week’s edition of the Managed Blog. We hope to see you next week. Take care, and goodbye.