Credit Card Phishing Scams
By Milton Kazmeyer
The Internet offers new methods for communication, but also allows criminals to reach a far greater number of victims than they ever could without the global network. One form of cyber crime is the theft and misuse of credit card numbers; one of the methods criminals use to steal these numbers is a technique known as “phishing.” Understanding how phishing scams work can help you avoid falling victim to this technique.
The term “phishing” refers to a social engineering technique that tricks a victim into giving up personal information. The scammer usually takes the role of someone associated with the victim’s bank or credit card provider, and often opens by claiming there is some problem with the account. This puts the target on the defensive; many of those who fall victim to these scams are eager to provide all the requested information to clear things up.
One tool phishers use to trick their victims is a spoofed website. These sites appear to be identical to major bank or credit card websites, but are hosted on third-party servers that the criminal controls. After contacting the victim via email, the scammer provides a disguised HTML link. The link appears to bear the address of the actual financial institution, but it instead redirects the victim to the fake site. If the victim does not notice the different address in his browser bar, he may unwittingly provide the criminal vital financial information. These sites may also attempt to install keyloggers, malware programs that record and transmit keystrokes in order to steal more information.
Order Refund Scams
Another method of credit card phishing involves alerting the target to an unsolicited charge on an account. In this case, the scammer may pretend to a sales representative from a company, calling or emailing to verify some large order. When the victim explains that such an order was never made, the scammer asks him to verify their identity to cancel this phantom order and generate a refund. Eager to avoid an unnecessary charge on his credit card, the victim may give away his financial information without realizing the danger.
Credit card phishing scams can be devastating to your finances, but avoiding them only requires following some basic safety rules. If an email suggests you need to log into your bank or credit card website to correct a problem, avoid clicking any links in the message. Go to the site directly by typing the address into your browser. Also, never provide personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller, no matter who they claim to be. When in doubt, call your bank or credit card provider directly to discuss any problems or concerns you may have.
Milton Kazmeyer has worked in the insurance, financial and manufacturing fields and also served as a federal contractor. He began his writing career in 2007 and now works full-time as a writer and transcriptionist. His primary fields of expertise include computers, astronomy, alternative energy sources and the environment.