Protect and Prevent: Credit Card and Internet Fraud

Merchant Warehouse |

January 31, 2012

Just about everywhere we go, we find ourselves interacting with some form of technology. It could be your computer at home or work, your smart phone, online gaming systems, an ATM, and much more. Just as these technologies benefit us, they can also be used by malicious parties to cause harm to people. The best way to stay safe is by preventing it altogether. The first step is to educate ourselves about the types of digital and online fraud and how to address them. Read on to get started!

Common Types of Fraud

Knowing when a piece of communication or a website is a fraud is half the battle. Online fraud comes in many forms. A very common one is those that target people’s email accounts. This can be in the form of a chain letter, a congratulatory email confirming prize winnings, notification that the recipient is eligible for an inheritance or otherwise large sum of money, and so on. Other spam email can come with an embedded link or an attached file. Often, clicking on either of these will result in a virus attacking the person’s computer. Other techniques, such as phishing, attempt to make the user unwittingly reveal their password or other pieces of sensitive information.

What to Look Out For

Before clicking links or opening files, assess the content carefully. Doing so only takes a few seconds but it could save you plenty of time, money, and worry. Fraudulent emails often come from addresses you may not recognize, and may contain messages in garbled or broken English, with links to unknown websites. The best thing to do when in doubt is to mark the email as spam and delete it. Sometimes viruses attack people’s email accounts and then send out fraudulent emails from that person’s email address, thus making it appear legitimate. If you ever receive an email from someone you know, where the content appears suspicious, get in touch with them to verify whether they sent it. Most frauds can be recognized by their wording, whether it is an online advertisement, request for sensitive information, or messages sent through dating services. Become familiar with these telltale signs and learn to avoid them in the future.

Staying Safe and Protecting Yourself

One of the first steps of staying safe online is to simply avoid visiting unreliable websites or clicking on dubious links. Ensure that you have a secure password that is changed regularly. Set up a firewall to help prevent attackers from accessing your computer. When shopping or banking online, make sure that the website is reliable and known to you, and that it displays the symbol of a security certificate. Never give out sensitive information such as banking details, your contact information, details about family members or social security numbers to unknown sources online. If you ever receive an email from your bank asking for this type of information, phone their customer service line to verify whether it was actually sent by them. In most cases, it is simply another scam sent by a third party.

Reporting Incidents of Fraud

There are numerous governmental and non-profit organizations that fraud victims can turn to for help. When filing a report of the incident, try to include as much information as possible. If you suspect that a scammer is using your computer or any of your accounts to send malicious communications to others, let your friends, family and business contacts know so that they can avoid falling victim to the same scam. Keep in mind that this type of activity doesn’t only apply to email but also to social media accounts. If your credit card or bank cards are affected, phone the appropriate company immediately and inform them. The key is to act quickly to minimize the damage.