How to Protect Your Credit Card from Cybercriminals

Credit cards are convenient to use. You don’t need to carry cash around. And, It gets even better. Even without money, you can still buy whatever you need. The lender gives you a credit limit to avail cash to you whenever you need it. But wait, do you know that cybercriminals are on the lookout, waiting for a chance to access your information?

How to Protect Your Credit Card from Cybercriminals

Once they get in, they can shop to their heart's content, at your expense. As such, you must take the necessary steps to protect your credit card from online hackers. Read on to find out how.

  1. Understand the Threats

    The first step in protecting yourself is understanding how cybercriminals can access your credit card information. The bad news is online hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They use various methods, including phishing, spyware, and data breaches.

    Do not use public wifi because it is a favorite hunting ground for hackers. Some cybercriminals will call and pretend to be from credit institutions. They will ask questions that result in you releasing your credit card information. Avoid sharing anything without verifying who you are talking to.

  2. Educate Yourself on the Impact of Credit Card Theft

    What should you do if you fall prey to cybercriminals? The most critical step is to make a report to the issuer immediately.

    Most credit card companies have fraud liability protection. It means you are not liable for the spending that the criminals will do. But, if you do not report the crime, you will pay the charges.

    Now, you may feel that it is not your fault, so why should you pay? Here is what will happen. The credit card company will take it as nonpayment of the credit card charges. They will relay the same information to the credit reference bureaus.

    It goes into your credit report as delinquency in debt repayment. In the end, your credit score will suffer. Yet, it could take a long time for you to discover if you do not check your credit report.

    Do engage the services of credit management service providers. They will monitor the reports and give you timely alerts. Credit repair companies can help correct any mistakes so that you maintain a perfect credit score.

  3. Operate From One Account and Monitor All Activities

    Limit the number of credit cards you use for online purchases to just one. Don’t give cybercriminals access to multiple accounts. It also makes it easier to monitor any fraudulent activities.

    Talk to your issuer to see whether they have a specific card for online purchases. Sign up to receive alerts every time there is a charge on the card. Notifications can be in the form of SMS or email alerts.

    It is also a good idea to avoid opening accounts for every purchase you make. Consider shopping as a guest. That way, the eCommerce store does not store your information.

    Some issuers can give virtual one-time numbers for every transaction. In this way you keep your real credit card number safe.

    Do you ever take the time to check your credit card statements? If not, start doing it today. Someone could be running you into debt without your knowledge.

    Request for a report every month, and go through it with a fine toothcomb. If you note any spending that you cannot account for, alert the issuer.

  4. Strong Passwords Are Non Negotiable

    Strong passwords are a simple yet effective way to protect yourself from cybercriminals. Do not make it easy for them with the common password mistakes. You know what they are, right? Birthdays, anniversaries, QWERTY, and 12345 sequences are some of them.

    Here is how cybercriminals will hack weak passwords.

    • Brute force attack where they try every possible combination until they get it right. The hackers have pretty sophisticated software that makes their work so much easier.
    • Dictionary attacks use prearranged words, much like you would find in a dictionary
    • Phishing that tricks you into revealing information, usually through emails or phone calls.

    Long passwords are a safer option. A combination of numbers, letters, and symbols are also worth considering.

    Multi-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security. Even if the hackers breach the password, they will still have to deal with the extra authentication.

    And please, do not save passwords online, or in a notebook that you carry around. You need to do your part in making life hard for the hackers.

  5. Only Shop On Safe Websites and Secure Your Site

    Do you ever check the safety of the website you are on? Let’s go back to the phishing method of attack. You click on a link, and it redirects you to an unsafe site. How would you know this?

    Well, for one, it has an HTTP and not HTTPS URL. That S is a sign that the site is secure. An extra badge of security is the lock icon. Yes, that lock on the URL window, like the one on this site.

    Reputable e-commerce platforms also showcase trust badges on their sites.

    Be extra picky about the sites you shop on. Stick to retailers you know or those with strong market reputations. Do take the time to read customer reviews on their experience shopping on the site. You could save yourself a lot of headaches and expenses.

    Staying safe online also depends on you. Install the necessary security measures on your internet-connected devices. Such include antimalware and antivirus. A VPN or Proxy keeps you anonymous while online. Third parties cannot see your online activities, thus additional security.

    Update your software and operating systems every time developers roll them out. They include the latest security measures, and patch any areas of vulnerabilities.

Final Thoughts

Credit cards are a popular target for cybercriminals. Users share a lot of personal information, which in the wrong hands can cause major problems. It is critical to take steps to protect yourself at all times.

The first step is to understand the dangers and how they will impact you as a credit card user. Limit your exposure by using one account for online purchases. Take the time to come up with strong passwords.

Avoid the use of public wifi and check that the website is safe. Finally, do install the necessary security for any device you use to connect to the internet. Do not make it easy for hackers to access your credit card information.

Check the comment section below for additional information, share what you know, or ask a question about this article by leaving a comment below. And, to quickly find answers to your questions, use our search Search engine.

Note: Some of the information in samples on this website may have been impersonated or spoofed.

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Online Threat Alerts Security Tips

Pay the safest way

Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or if the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly.

Guard your personal information

In any transaction you conduct, make sure to check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the seller, charity, company, or organization is credible. Be especially wary if the entity is unfamiliar to you. Always call the number found on a website’s contact information to make sure the number legitimately belongs to the entity you are dealing with.

Be careful of the information you share

Never give out your codes, passwords or personal information, unless you are sure of who you're dealing with

Know who you’re dealing with

Crooks pretending to be from companies you do business with may call or send an email, claiming they need to verify your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something and know who you are sending payment to. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

Check your accounts

Regularly check your account transactions and report any suspicious or unauthorised transactions.

Don’t believe promises of easy money

If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam. Oftentimes, offers that seem too good to be true, actually are too good to be true.

Do not open email from people you don’t know

If you are unsure whether an email you received is legitimate, try contacting the sender directly via other means. Do not click on any links in an email unless you are sure it is safe.

Think before you click

If an email or text message looks suspicious, don’t open any attachments or click on the links.

Verify urgent requests or unsolicited emails, messages or phone calls before you respond

If you receive a message or a phone call asking for immediate action and don't know the sender, it could be a phishing message.

Be careful with links and new website addresses

Malicious website addresses may appear almost identical to legitimate sites. Scammers often use a slight variation in spelling or logo to lure you. Malicious links can also come from friends whose email has unknowingly been compromised, so be careful.

Secure your personal information

Before providing any personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, and passwords, be sure the website is secure.

Stay informed on the latest cyber threats

Keep yourself up to date on current scams by visiting this website daily.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are critical to online security.

Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs

Keep all of your software applications up to date on your computers and mobile devices. Install software that provides antivirus, firewall, and email filter services.

Update the operating systems on your electronic devices

Make sure your operating systems (OSs) and applications are up to date on all of your electronic devices. Older and unpatched versions of OSs and software are the target of many hacks. Read the CISA security tip on Understanding Patches and Software Updates for more information.

What if You Got Scammed?

Stop Contact With The Scammer

Hang up the phone. Do not reply to emails, messages, or letters that the scammer sends. Do not make any more payments to the scammer. Beware of additional scammers who may contact you claiming they can help you get your lost money back.

Secure Your Finances

  • Report potentially compromised bank account, credit or debit card information to your financial institution(s) immediately. They may be able to cancel or reverse fraudulent transactions.
  • Notify the three major credit bureaus. They can add a fraud alert to warn potential credit grantors that you may be a victim of identity theft. You may also want to consider placing a free security freeze on your credit report. Doing so prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit:

Check Your Computer

If your computer was accessed or otherwise affected by a scam, check to make sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date and running and that your system is free of malware and keylogging software. You may also need to seek the help of a computer repair company. Consider utilizing the Better Business Bureau’s website to find a reputable company.

Change Your Account Passwords

Update your bank, credit card, social media, and email account passwords to try to limit further unauthorized access. Make sure to choose strong passwords when changing account passwords.

Report The Scam

Reporting helps protect others. While agencies can’t always track down perpetrators of crimes against scammers, they can utilize the information gathered to record patterns of abuse which may lead to action being taken against a company or industry.

Report your issue to the following agencies based on the nature of the scam:

  • Local Law Enforcement: Consumers are encouraged to report scams to their local police department or sheriff’s office, especially if you lost money or property or had your identity compromised.
  • Federal Trade Commission: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the Online Complaint Assistant to report various types of fraud, including counterfeit checks, lottery or sweepstakes scams, and more.
  • If someone is using your personal information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, report it at This federal government site will also help you create your Identity Theft Report and a personal recovery plan based on your situation. Questions can be directed to 877-ID THEFT.

How To Recognize a Phishing Scam

Scammers use email or text messages to try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could get access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful.

Scammers often update their tactics to keep up with the latest news or trends, but here are some common tactics used in phishing emails or text messages:

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank or a credit card or utility company. Or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app. The message could be from a scammer, who might

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
  • say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
  • include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
  • offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real

About Online Threat Alerts (OTA)

Online Threat Alerts or OTA is an anti-cybercrime community that started in 2012. OTA alerts the public to cyber crimes and other web threats.

By alerting the public, we have prevented a lot of online users from getting scammed or becoming victims of cybercrimes.

With the ever-increasing number of people going online, it important to have a community like OTA that continuously alerts or protects those same people from cyber-criminals, scammers and hackers, who are every day finding new ways of carrying out their malicious activities.

Online users can help by reporting suspicious or malicious messages or websites to OTA. And, if they want to determine if a message or website is a threat or scam, they can use OTA's search engine to search for the website or parts of the message for information.

Help maintain Online Threat Alerts (OTA).

How to Protect Your Credit Card from Cybercriminals