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Credit card fraud is massive, with an estimated $4 billion hacked in the U.S. alone during 2016. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that 41 million American adults have had their identity stolen.

You don’t want to be part of that statistic.

So how can you avoid it? Well, you can be proactive and prevent hackers from targeting your credit card. In fact, it’s pretty simple to do.

Set Up Notifications and Alerts on Your Card

You should check whether notifications are available for all of your financial accounts. These are alerts that you can set up to email or send an SMS when a transaction is made. They can also be configured to confirm your next monthly repayment and let you know if the credit limit has been exceeded.

credit card hacking alerts
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All modern accounts, personal and business, offer this feature The 7 Best Online Banking Features For Simplifying Your Life The 7 Best Online Banking Features For Simplifying Your Life Does money management stress you out? What if you could effortlessly alleviate some of that stress for good? Online banking offers a lot of benefits that can help to simplify the headaches of money. Read More . Simply contact your bank or log in online to find the option to set this feature up.

The benefit is clear: if your card has been hacked or cloned and is being used, you’ll receive instant notification. All that is left to do is to contact the lender, and inform them of the breach. Your credit card company should then put a block on the card, and often they will refund the fraudulent transaction.

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Got a problem with your bank or card company setting these notifications up? Well, first, consider switching to a modern account provider. In the meantime, however, you can subscribe to a credit checking service, which will also offer notifications and alerts for all of your accounts.

Use Mobile Payment and Leave Your Card at Home

Apple Pay, Android Pay, and similar smartphone-based payment services will let you use your phone instead of a card to make contactless payments.

credit card hacking apple pay
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This is done by using the phone’s camera to scan your credit cards, with the data then “read” by the app and stored. Heading out to a shop without your card in your wallet is now possible. Just hold the phone close to the contactless payment point, and the item is purchased. It’s that simple, and keeps your card safe from scammers. Just be sure to keep the original under lock and key.

Concerned whether Apple Pay is actually safe Apple Pay Is Safer Than You Think: 5 Facts To Prove It Apple Pay Is Safer Than You Think: 5 Facts To Prove It Mobile-based payment services like Apple Pay are becoming more and more popular. But what security features does it offer? What safeguards are in place? Is it safe? Read More ? It’s not perfect, but it at least gives you the option of shopping without your card. And if your phone gets stolen, you can remotely delete your card data.

Use a Secure RFID-Blocking Physical Wallet

If you really have to take your credit card with you, consider its value, and act accordingly. Modern cards are equipped with RFID How Does RFID Technology Work? How Does RFID Technology Work? What's in your wallet? Do you carry a contactless credit or debit card? Did you know that your contactless card uses RFID? But what is RFID? Let's find out. Read More and NFC technology. This facilitates the fashion for contactless payments for credit and bank debit cards.

The risks to your credit card balance from RFID technology has been reported at length RFID Can Be Hacked: Here's How, & What You Can Do To Stay Safe RFID Can Be Hacked: Here's How, & What You Can Do To Stay Safe How much do you know about RFID chips? Do you know how many you're carrying at any given moment? Do you know what information is stored on them? Do you know how close a hacker... Read More in the popular press. Briefly, scammers have the opportunity to capture payments using portable RFID devices. Without knowing it, you could be transferring money from your credit card as a “payment” to someone stood close by.

While it’s difficult to physically stop this form of contactless pick-pocketing, you can take steps. Although wrapping your card in tinfoil or using an Altoids tin as a wallet are both options, a dedicated RFID-blocking card wallet What Are RFID-Blocking Wallets & Which Should You Buy? What Are RFID-Blocking Wallets & Which Should You Buy? If you knew that someone could read your credit cards, passport, and even driver's license without actually having to swipe them, would you take steps to guard against it? Read More is the better solution. Many are available, and they’re affordable and compact enough to slip into your pocket.

Best RFID Blocking Credit Card Stainless Steel Wallet Case For Work, Travel And Business. Lightweight, Secure and Stylish For Front Wallet. Keep Your Identity Safe. Comes In Gift Box Best RFID Blocking Credit Card Stainless Steel Wallet Case For Work, Travel And Business. Lightweight, Secure and Stylish For Front Wallet. Keep Your Identity Safe. Comes In Gift Box SECURE YOUR RFID CHIP CARDS FROM THEFT - Our stainless steel wallet uses RFID technology to stop thieves instantly Buy Now At Amazon $13.95

Meanwhile, if you’re using a contactless card 5 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Contactless Payment Scams 5 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Contactless Payment Scams Contactless payment fraud continues to rise. Figures from the U.K. show a 150 percent increase in just one year, with $9 million stolen last year. What can you do to avoid becoming a victim yourself? Read More , make sure you set an appropriate payment limit with your credit card company. And if you would prefer to disable this feature, you should be able to, or at least set it to the minimum value.

Employ Strong and Secure Online Passwords

It’s an annual event. Some security research lands in my email inbox revealing that the most popular password in the world is “password.” This is probably part double-bluff, part bad memory.

credit card hacking password
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People, you need to wake up: scammers are smarter than you. It’s their job to be smarter than you, and to empty your pockets without you seeing them. This is what they do for a living — stop underestimating them!

This is why your online banking and credit accounts need to have water tight passwords. No doubt two-factor authentication What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires two different ways of proving your identity. It is commonly used in everyday life. For example paying with a credit card not only requires the card,... Read More (2FA) is in use, perhaps with an access code sent to your smartphone or email account. Either way, you need to accompany this with a strong password to make doubly sure.

Perhaps the best way to do this is to consider our tips for the creation of a strong password How to Generate Strong Passwords That Match Your Personality How to Generate Strong Passwords That Match Your Personality Without a strong password you could quickly find yourself on the receiving end of a cyber-crime. One way to create a memorable password could be to match it to your personality. Read More . Alternatively, install a password manager and use this to do the heavy lifting of creating and remembering passwords. You’ll just need to remember the app’s master password.

Never Let Your Credit Card Out of Your Sight

Cloning cards is a big business for scammers. It’s a technique that copies all of the data from your card and saves it as data, ready to be written to a blank card. This can then be used to siphon money from your credit account, or in the case of debit cards, your bank account. Or the data can be used to purchase items online.

credit card hacking payment
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At one time, cloned cards was considered a massive risk… and then it died down. But fraudsters are still cloning credit cards Fraudsters Still Clone Credit Cards: Keep Plastic In Your Pocket Fraudsters Still Clone Credit Cards: Keep Plastic In Your Pocket If you regularly pay by credit or debit/cheque card (and who doesn’t these days?) you should be aware that your card can be cloned. But how is this done, and what types of business are... Read More to hack accounts. So how can you stop this from happening?

Well, it’s getting more difficult. We’ve already looked at the risks of RFID, which can take a payment from your card while it’s in your pocket. With credit card cloning, the data is read by a skimmer, a compact device that can be hidden in the palm of a hand or pocket. In a situation when you would normally hand your credit card over to a waiter or waitress, this is the moment when your trust can be abused. While they “go and fetch the card machine,” they can clone your details.

To avoid this, simply make sure you don’t let the card out of your sight. If the credit card machine is elsewhere in the restaurant, keep hold of your card and wait.

Only Shop via Trusted and Secure Online Stores

“HTTPS” — five letters that show you that the website you’re carrying out a transaction on is safe and secure. Whether you’re online banking, using a digital payment service or making a payment via credit card, the URL (or address) of the website you’re using should begin HTTPS What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default Security concerns are spreading far and wide and have reached the forefront of most everybody's mind. Terms like antivirus or firewall are no longer strange vocabulary and are not only understood, but also used by... Read More .

This indicates that the transaction is taking place over a secure, encrypted connection. It doesn’t get safer than this for online payments.

credit card hacking https
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If the store or bank you’re using doesn’t offer HTTPS, don’t spend any money. There could be several things going on here, all of them bad. It could be a spoof site, set up to look like the real thing and persuade you to part with your hard-earned cash. Or it might be an untrustworthy website, aiming to take your money and run.

Avoiding these unfortunate scenarios is simple: stick to services offering HTTPS. Google is encouraging websites to do this, for the sake of online financial safety, but you can go one better and only shop with stores you know are trustworthy.

It’s Your Card: Stay in Control!

To keep your finances within your control, you need to make sure no one else has access to them. If you want to avoid having your credit card hacked:

  • Embrace notifications and alerts. Use those provided by your credit card, by trusted third party financial apps, and credit monitoring services.
  • Buy an RFID-blocking wallet to store your credit cards.
  • Alternatively, add your card to your preferred mobile payment service and leave the card at home.
  • Set strong and secure passwords for your online banking.
  • Don’t let cashiers and waiting staff walk off with your card.

You don’t want to become a statistic. Don’t be a victim of credit card fraud What To Do If You’re A Victim Of Online Credit Card Fraud What To Do If You’re A Victim Of Online Credit Card Fraud Read More . Be smart, and take the precautions to avoid it proactively, rather than reactively after the event.

Has your credit card been hacked? What happened? Tell us about it in the comments.

Image Credit: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Pedro
    July 24, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Here in Portugal we use "one time" virtual credit cards...
    You just create a credit card online with the specified maximum ammount of the purchase and voila...
    It's called "MBnet" and "MBway"

    • Christian Cawley
      August 3, 2017 at 8:17 am

      Are these widely used, Pedro?

  2. Nick
    July 21, 2017 at 7:57 am

    Here in Europe we are generally used to payless transactions and mobile terminals being brought to you, but on a recent holiday in the States, I was amazed at constantly having to give my card away in restaurants to be swiped and then signed. I guess it's to do with having to write down the tip, but I was surprised and a little uneasy about it.

    • Christian Cawley
      August 3, 2017 at 8:16 am

      That's interesting. Having never been to the USA, I'm not sure I would be comfortable with that!