There are all kinds of credit card fraud — from simple fraud to complex fraud to fraud that is both complex and very sophisticated. While you might not be able to fully protect yourself from every type of credit card fraud out there, there are some simple things you can do to reduce the likelihood of falling victim, so long as you are vigilant and know where the danger is lurking.

Credit and Debit Card Skimming

Skimming refers to stealing debit or credit card information via a special device — a skimmer — attached to an ATM, gas station pump, restaurant or store checkout terminal, or even a handheld credit card reader.

Even though some experts recommend to try and spot a skimming device visually, the truth is, it’s not easy to do. According to Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, the skimmers “can be, and often are, constructed with extreme precision and great detail and are difficult, if not impossible, to detect with the naked eye.”

That leaves preventive measures as the most reliable method of protecting yourself against skimming, and you should pay special attention to ATMs, because the same report states that the “vast majority of breaches in this category were related to ATMs (94%), with gas pump terminals coming in second (5%).”

To help protect yourself from this kind of credit card fraud, use your own bank ATM.

Email and Phone Phishing

Phishing refers to a fraud where the perpetrators are trying to trick you into giving them your personal information, which they can then use to steal your money or even identity. In the case of a credit card fraud, it’s an attempt to gain access to your credit card information.

Sometimes, those attempting fraudulent activity will send you a link that, when clicked, will install malicious key logging software on your computer. Upon execution, the software will record all the login names and passwords you type and gain access to your personal financial information.

You can avoid or greatly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of phishing by using these simple precautionary measures.

  • Don’t click on any links you’re not sure about, until you verify their sources.
  • Don’t divulge any sensitive information to anyone unless you have initiated the contact.
  • Don’t email unencrypted personal financial information, even if you trust the recipient.
  • Never call the number or click on the link that suddenly pops up on your computer screen, especially if it claims that your computer has been infected with a virus.
  • Keep your antivirus and anti-malware programs updated.

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