Cash and change can weigh your wallet down, and that’s when credit cards come in handy. Those plastic rectangles hold all the necessary information to make purchases online and in-person. The downfall of this is that the moment your credit is compromised, somehow your bank account, identity, and credit score are at risk. Many people believe that online shopping is the easiest way to get credit card data stolen. But there are several ways for that to happen—and some of them are more common than you think.
1. At a restaurant:
You’re done with your dinner and your waiter or waitress comes over to take your credit card and process your payment through the restaurant’s register. After that, he or she takes out a small device that is no larger than an ice cube, and swipes your card through that. The device is known as a skimmer and can store the credit card information of hundreds of people.
2. At a store:
A group of criminals peruse a store and make it seem as if they are there to make a purchase. Then, they create a scene in which the sales clerk will be distracted away from the register. In a matter minutes, one of the criminals switches out the credit card reader at the register with a modified one of his own. The sales clerk then unknowingly helps the gang collect card data from customers until they come back and switch out the reader with the original.
3. At a gas station:
The gas station attendant is not paying attention while a seemingly regular customer approaches a pump outside. Instead of paying and pumping for gas, however, this “customer” attaches a special skimmer to the pump’s credit card reader that emits a Bluetooth signal to a nearby laptop. This person can then set up camp nearby and receive data from the compromised pump for a period of time.
4. On your computer:
A website with low security is infiltrated with malware installed by a sly hacker. Whenever you visit this site, the malware instantly downloads all of your confidential information, making it readily accessible to the hacker. In a similar scenario, the hacker can install malware on public computers or send emails from familiar senders with a link to a contaminated website.
What’s a person to do to avoid becoming a victim?