Credit cards are a common way to pay for food, gas or anything you need for your livelihood. The problem with credit cards is that people use them so frequently. You might not realize that malicious parties have a lot of opportunities to steal your credit card information.
The Federal Trade Commission explains that credit card fraud is the act of taking card account information and using it to make purchases in the name of the card holder. These illegal purchases leave you on the hook to pay them off. By using your account, a fraudster could burden you with a substantial amount of debt.
Fraudsters may use hacking or phishing
Since people do a lot of business online, your emails and online accounts may be a target for fraudsters through methods like phishing. You receive an email alerting you to a problem with one of your online accounts. The email requests your credit card numbers through a form or a reply email. After you send your card numbers, the fraudster receives the information. A fraudster may also use a phishing email to hack your computer or an account you own.
Fraud can be low tech
Fraudsters do not have to employ phishing techniques or other computer methods to get your card information. Some criminals go as far as to pick through garbage to find crumpled up credit card statements to harvest the account numbers. This is why many people shred their statements before disposing of them. Also, if you leave your card exposed while in a store, someone like a clerk might snap a picture of your card and its account numbers.
Family and friends can commit fraud
Some people become victims of fraud by lending their card to a roommate, a friend or a family member. The temptation to misuse a card may become too great. Also, a devious roommate or relative may come across your paper statements and acquire your card information.
There is also a risk that suspicion of fraud might fall on you. You might have acquired permission to use the card of a friend or relative and returned it in good faith, which puts you at risk if the other person suddenly finds unexplained purchases on his or her account. Refraining from using the card or financial account of someone you know may spare you from possible criminal charges and the ordeal of going through a legal proceeding.