With the advent of on-line shopping and ordering goods over the phone, it is more important than ever to ensure the security of your credit and debit cards. Once a criminal has your number, they can easily steal your money without ever putting themselves in danger of being caught. It is very easy for them to steal your identity and use your card numbers to run up massive debts in your name from behind the anonymity of a computer screen or telephone. Card providers have tried to combat this by adding a security number to the back of the card to help prevent criminals from simply picking up your card details from an imprint of it.
The best way to stop misuse of your account is to protect the details contained on it. For this reason, you should never give out your credit card number over the phone to anyone who has phoned you, and this includes your bank, or anyone purporting to be from your bank. A reputable bank will never ask you to do this in any case. This is almost definitely a criminal intent on stealing your details to steal goods and services in your name. Often they will ask you to confirm both card and personal details. Once they have this information there is nothing to stop them setting up alsorts of new accounts in your name also. If you really believe the caller to be genuine, then offer to call them back on the phone number that you have been provided by the bank, or look it up in a reputable guide. Never take the phone number from the person calling you and I repeat, never, never give your details to someone who calls you out of the blue.
If your bank is calling, they will have your details and should not need to ask you for them. If they suggest it is for confirmation, ask them to read the number to you to confirm. They should refuse. If there is a real reason to have the number confirmed then ask for their name, but not their number, and phone your bank on a number that you know and have used before. Even better arrange to go into your local branch and confirm any details with them there. A bank will never call or email you to ask for your account details in this way, it is almost certainly a scam.
If, in a moment of weakness you get caught out and realise that you may have given out your details to a criminal, contact your card provider or bank immediately and explain what has happened. They will be able to assist and advise you of any actions that they need you to take, such as contacting the police. Certainly they will be able to cancel the cards and put out an alert to retailers if the threat seems serious. This will not prevent all misuse and theft, but should help to limit exposure.
It is not only banks that you need to be wary of, there are a number of scams out there. So be careful not to provide your details to an unknown person or site. Of course, when you are on-line shopping or ordering goods over the phone, you do of course need to give out your credit or debit card details. If you follow some simple guidelines, you should be able to do this without undermining the security of your details or passing them onto an unscruplous individual.
a) If possible sign up to a secure credit transfer provider, such as Paypal or UKash. Both of these providers allow you to conduct online commerce without providing any financial details to third parties. This is a good way to keep your card details safe and out of the hands of criminals.
b) Only give out your details over a secure internet connection. Reputable sites will have secure connections for the collecting of card details and to process payments. These help to safeguard your details. Be very wary of providing card details if the payment process is not through a secure system.
c) Only give out details to sites that you know and trust. A bit obvious, but by trading on-line with retailers and service providers you know, or have throughly researched, through your anti virus provider for example, you will limit your exposure to theft and fraud.
d) Only give out details on sites that you have entered into your browser, not any sites that you have been taken to by a link from another site. Often site addresses will look genuine but they will take you to mirror sites that are there to fool you.
e) Always remember that any reputable finance organisation will not ask for your details either by phone or through an email. The best protection of all is don’t give your card details out over the phone to anyone unless you have instigated the call and know who you are talking to.
It isn’t just phone requests you need to be wary of. Another request to ignore is one asking for your details by email. This could easily be a phishing scam. Phishing is where criminals try to trick people into providing their card details in response to seemingly genuine email requests from banks and other institutions. Often there will be a link in the email that, if followed, will take you to a mirror image of a real site. If the email has a link to a website within it, never click on it and provide details to the site it takes you to. This is almost certainly a scam to get to obtain your details. Again, if you believe this is a genuine request from your bank (it will not be), then go to the bank’s web-site by typing its known site address into your browser window. Never follow a link within such an email, it will put you at great financial risk.
Use your common sense and safe guard your personal information. This will help give you the confidence to trade without putting yourself at undue risk of criminal activity.