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- Credit card scams are becoming more common, and if you’re not careful, you could become a victim.
- You may receive a phishing email, text, or phone call, or fall prey to a fake charity pitch.
- Never give out your card details if you suspect fraud, and trust your gut if something seems off
- Read Insider’s guide to the best credit card offers available right now.
At least once a week, my mom calls me with the news of another credit card scam she’s heard about. As she shares anecdotes of what happened to a friend of hers or somebody she watched on the news, I start to get nervous that something like that could happen to me.
The more I started to research credit card scams out there, the more I realized how easy it is to become a victim of one of them at any time. If you’re not paying attention, in a rush, or don’t give into a gut feeling that a phone call, email, or link that you click on isn’t what it seems, you could be handing over your credit card information , and more details, to people who could commit fraud.
Read more: Credit card fraud is on the rise, but you can protect yourself by taking 5 easy steps
Wondering what the most common credit card scams are right now and how you can protect yourself from getting wrapped in one of them? Here’s what you should know.
Common credit card scams
1. The phishing scam
One of the most common credit card scams that have been around for a while is called phishing. While this type of scam can happen in many different ways, it usually occurs when a fraudulent company (or individual) contacts a victim by phone, email, or text message, with the goal of extracting their credit card, banking, account, or personal details.
Why is phishing so common and popular? Oftentimes, these fraudsters will contact you with an email address that looks practically identical to the one your credit card uses or call you and mimic how a credit card representative would sound over the phone. They’ll ask for personal details or your credit card details.
Read more: Identity theft is a major problem, but these 5 credit card protection programs can help keep you safe
This is a scam that happens to me quite often (through email, text, and phone calls). Whenever I get communication that looks like it’s from my credit card company, I double-check the email address or tell them I’ll call them back and use the number provided to me inside of my credit card account.
2. Interest rate reduction scam
At least three times a day I answer my phone to the sound of a robocall. One of the most common types of those calls not only seems tempting but can get a person craving more details.
It’s called the interest rate reduction scam and it’s when an unknown number calls you with a recorded message sharing the good news that you’re eligible to negotiate your interest rates on your credit card balances to lower them quite a bit — except the message isn’ t true or coming from your credit card company.
Read more: Most people never think to try a stunningly simple way to cut down credit-card debt
Instead, these fake businesses claim that they have relationships with credit card companies and can work on your behalf to lower your interest rate and reduce your payments by thousands of dollars. Once they get you interested, they’ll ask for your credit card and personal details.
If reducing your credit card interest rate is something you’d like to do, contact your credit card company directly. They are the ones who can give you the true answer to the possibility of this happening. If anyone else makes that promise, just hang up.
3. The Overcharge Scam
Hearing the news that you’ve been overcharged for an item you paid for with your credit card can often be enough to get anyone to stay on a phone call or click a link in an email to learn more. However, the overcharge scam is a credit card scheme that boomed during the pandemic, as more people tapped into online shopping.
When you get this call or email, the scammer will extract your credit card information and personal details, telling you that’s what is needed for you to get your money back. However, none of that is true.
Read more: My kid charged $2,500 in online video game purchases to my credit card — here’s what happened
If you receive a message like this, hang up or delete the email. Then go take a look at your credit card statement to look for anything irregular or unusual. If you notice a repeat or overcharge, contact your credit card company directly.
4. The Skim Scam
As more businesses go cashless and more consumers turn toward paying for goods and services with a credit or debit card, the practice of skimming has remained relevant as a popular credit card scam.
People will place a skimmer, which is a small electronic device often placed on gas pumps, ATMs, and other locations, that reads the information from the stripe of your card when you insert it. Once the skimmer captures that information, the person who set up the device has access to your credit card details to use or to sell to someone else.
Read more: Here’s what to do if your credit card is lost or stolen, whether you’re at home or traveling abroad
While it can be hard to spot these devices, check for any tampering on credit card readers before inserting your card or start using a mobile wallet (which allows you to connect your credit card and then use your phone to tap and pay for items) instead .
5. Charity donation scam
A scam that’s extra hard to recognize is the charity donation scam. That’s when someone will call you up, pretend to be from a charity, give you a pitch as to why this organization needs your donation, and ask for a payment, which is when they steal your credit card information.
Read more: Someone charged hundreds of dollars to my wife’s credit card, but we weren’t on the hook because we didn’t pay with debit
If a charity gives you a call and you find yourself interested in donating, search online for the organization’s official website and make a donation there instead.