Credit Card Scams: How to Recognize and Prevent Them

Credit card scams have been on the rise, with fraudsters using a variety of sophisticated scams to steal your money and identity. Because of the technology these days, they’re able to carry out credit card …


Credit card scams have been on the rise, with fraudsters using a variety of sophisticated scams to steal your money and identity. Because of the technology these days, they’re able to carry out credit card scams without ever having to leave their homes. They will also take advantage of your internet, social media accounts, and other ways of connecting with you to get your personal information.

Credit card scams are prevalent. In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission reported greater than 2.1 million identity theft and fraud cases. That is a 26% increase from the past five years and 138% in a decade. A substantial portion of those cases are credit card-related scams, and more than 40% are identity theft reports.

The tactics used to fight credit card scams are continuously evolving since scammers are also getting more sophisticated with their modus operandi. They’re either reinventing old schemes or creating an entirely new scam. Understanding how these scams work can help you avoid falling victim to them and keep your money and identity safe.


Phishing is when a scammer gets your personal information by pretending to be someone else. They send an email that looks like it’s from a legit company, like your bank or credit card company. If you click on the link in the email and enter your username and password, they can access your account.

Phishing typically happens with spam emails that use fake domains or pretend to be from reputable companies. They might send emails from banks, technology companies, and government organizations.

Phishing scams are very convincing because many people don’t think twice about clicking on links in spam emails and entering their personal information into websites that are not trustworthy. It’s important to know what your bank’s website looks like so you can tell if you’re genuinely logging in to their website or if you are being redirected to a phishing site.

There are multiple ways to avoid this type of scam. First, acquaint yourself with your bank or credit card issuer websites. Be aware of any slight changes in the website logo or misspelled URLs. Second, always type the URL of websites where you need to provide sensitive information manually.

Additionally, most banks do not ask for your sensitive information through email. If somebody claims suspicious activity with your account, call your credit card company or bank to verify if the problem is real. Finally, never give your personal information to anyone online.


Skimming is a tactic that scammers use to steal information off the magnetic strips of cash cards. They will add a layer of plastic or metal to the card, called a skimmer, which gives it a different appearance than the genuine card. By using this technique, they can swipe your card and replicate it to make purchases.

Skimmers can be pretty challenging to identify since they look like regular card readers more often than not. They are also often put on top of the actual card reader. However, there are ways how to avoid scammy processors and protect yourself from skimming.

For instance, use credit cards with chip technology instead of cash cards and make sure you always keep your receipt. In addition, try gently pulling the card reader when using ATMs, cashier stations, gas pumps, and more. If the card reader doesn’t pop off, there’s a good chance that it’s not a skimmer. Finally, report it right away if you think you’ve been scammed.


An impersonation scam is when scammers pretend to be your bank, credit card company, government agency, and even law enforcement to access your personal information. The scammers may use threats and fear to coerce you into giving your personal or financial information such as your phone number, address, bank account numbers, and passwords.

Remember that legitimate banks and agencies will not ask for your information, primarily through phone calls or email. Always be aware of consistent grammar or spelling mistakes, requests to confirm personal information, a sense of urgency, and suspicious website links or email addresses.

Hotspot Scam

Another common credit card scam is the hotspot scam. It is a general rule to be cautious when using a public Wi-Fi connection because scammers’ could be surveying these networks. However, there are times wherein the network itself is the trap.

In this scam, when you connect to the “public Wi-Fi hotspot” using your mobile phone or laptop, you’re prompted to pay using your credit card information. By doing so, you’re giving your credit card and personal information to scammers.

There are also cases where a free hotspot offers internet access. However, scammers can monitor your every move. They can look into your bank account when you open it, record your passwords, and grasp your data in many other ways.

To protect yourself from hotspot scams, avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. If you must access the internet, ask the store or restaurant employee first for the correct Wi-FI name and password. Avoid connecting to networks with generic names such as “Free Public Wi-Fi.” Generally, don’t log into your bank account when using these networks or use a VPN to create a protected connection.

Charity Scam

Charity scams exploit people’s good-hearted instincts to help. These are often scammers pretending to be organizations that take in donations but don’t do anything. This tactic is used to make more money from the people who donate their money and identity to these fake charities.

These scams commonly happen after a tragedy such as a flood, wildfire, landslide, earthquake, hurricane, and many more. Scammers will call or email various people and appeal to help the victims with a donation. Some other common tactics scammers use include collecting your personal information and then using it for identity theft.

You can avoid falling for this scam by contacting a charity yourself. Also, don’t give out your credit card information. Instead, write down the information they give you and politely hang up. Next, you can search the web for the phone number they use inside a quotation mark. Then it will show whether that number has been previously identified as a scam caller or not.

The Bottom Line

It can be easy to get a credit card. You might even be tempted to apply for one just because it’s convenient. But, the drawbacks are many and can make you feel like you’re being ripped off, especially when there are various ways in which credit cards can scam you.

Scammers can be sneaky and hard to spot. They may use a persuasive approach, they may call you out of the blue, browse through your social media, create fake websites that look like your issuer’s log-in page, or they may try to pull a scam right in front of you. It is best to educate yourself beforehand to protect yourself from falling into these scams.

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