Credit and Debit Card Fraud: 4 Unknown Ways Identity Thieves Steal Your Information

Recent reports of debit and credit card fraud might have you afraid to use anything but cash. Identity thieves use more than just the Internet to gather data about potential victims. Even places you think are safe could still lead to theft. Learn how to protect yourself from some less commonly known card-stealing tactics.

 

Outdoor ATMs

 

You might not know that ATMs are a good source for identity thieves. When you scan your card in the machine, a reader grabs the card information. Identity thieves can place scanners on ATM machines that steal card data unbeknownst to the card owner. The best way to protect yourself from this trick is to only use an indoor ATM machine. Instead of using the drive-in ATM, use the ATM inside of the bank.

 

Restaurants That Keep Credit Cards on File

 

Your favorite restaurant might be insecure with your data and not even realize it. Some restaurants keep your credit card on file. The next time you call to order delivery, ask the hostess or waitress if she has your number on file. Having your number on file is a convenience for the restaurant in case you leave after forgetting to pay your bill. However, it leaves your number open to anyone who has access to the company computer, which is usually all the restaurant staff.

 

Phishing Websites

 

Phishing websites aren’t an unknown way to get your data, but new phishing sites pop up every day. One recent phishing scam pointed users to a website that used Google Docs. The Google Doc displayed an image that looked like the official Google login page. Unfortunately, that page was a phishing page for login information. Using your email credentials, an identity thief could then log in and reset passwords for websites such as your banking or credit card company. The end result was that the identity thief had access to financial data without the victim knowing when or how he got it.

 

Gas Stations

 

Gas station risks are similar to the outdoor ATM risks, but gas stations make it easier for a criminal to install a card reader. At night, there is little attendance at a gas station, and no one notices if a thief spends too much time at a gas pump. You can avoid this theft technique by paying for gas indoors instead of using the pump.

 

These are four dangerous places for credit card and debit theft, but you don’t have to walk around paranoid. Be smart about where you swipe your card and always avoid entering your user name and password after clicking a link in an email.

 

Todd Drake

CoFounder ManageURiD

www.manageurid.com

How to Protect Your Online Privacy

Companies routinely collect information about you every time you go online, and hackers and other bad guys are always trying to access the personal information you share. Protecting your privacy and staying one step ahead of the data thieves is not easy. The only way to be 100 percent safe is to unplug from the Internet entirely, but that is not an option for most of us. The Internet provides a myriad of modern conveniences, and few of us are willing to give it up in the name of security and privacy.

 

You do not have to unplug your computer or live a totally offline life to keep your personal data private. There are some proven ways to safeguard your personal information while still enjoying everything the Internet has to offer.

 

Stick with Secure Connections

Using an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot for email, online banking and other private communications is the online equivalent of sharing your deepest secrets on a party line. Party lines were common in the early days of the telephone, and they allowed neighbors to listen in, and join in, on the conversations of friends and strangers alike. If you are doing your online banking at the local coffee shop, you are broadcasting your data in just the same way.

 

That is because hackers can easily listen in and capture traffic sent over a public Wi-Fi connection. The tools hackers need to tap into Wi-Fi connections are readily available, and it does not take a skilled hacker to bypass the basic security public sites use. Free Wi-Fi connections are fine for general web surfing, but you should avoid visiting any website that requires a password and sites that ask for personally identifiable data.

 

Watch What You Put in the Cloud

Cloud storage services like iCloud and DropBox are wonderful innovations, but they could also put your private data at risk. Users may assume that everything they upload to the cloud, from tax returns to corporate documents, are fully encrypted, but that is not necessarily the case.

 

Once you upload your documents to the cloud, you have very limited control over how they are stored. The documents may be securely encrypted, or they may sit on the company’s servers with no encryption at all. In the end, it is simply not worth the risk.

 

Cloud storage is great for some things, like vacation photos or general text documents, but be careful what you put there. Avoid storing documents of a highly personal nature, including anything that contains your Social Security number or other personal information. If you have already stored such documents in the cloud, removing them can protect your privacy in the event of a data breach.

 

Insist on Two-Layer Data Protection

When you set up an online banking application or request online access to your brokerage account, you should be asked to create a series of personal questions to verify identity. That extra layer of security helps safeguard your private information and prevent hackers from logging on even if they somehow get your password.

 

You can register your own computer with online banking and brokerage sites and bypass the security questions on subsequent logins. Be sure to make the answers to the security questions hard to guess; avoid obvious questions and others would know the answers to. The more care you put into the security questions, the safer you will be online.

 

It goes without saying that you need to use strong passwords with capital letters, special characters and other security features. You can check the strength of proposed passwords at a number of websites, and that can help you keep your data even more secure.