Credit and debit cards make purchases more convenient, but according to financial experts, our need for speed can expose our most critical identity and financial information to hackers and scammers.
The next time you swipe and go, think twice before you make the payment. Here are some places you should be extra careful when you use your personal banking card.
Unsecure online websites
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Online discount shopping websites are chief among places you never want to expose your private debit or credit card data. Look for established retailers with secure websites to ensure hackers cannot steal your account information even before you have completed your purchase.
Gas stations and grocery stores
Thieves often place skimmers, or small devices that can read and collect data from your card, on gas pumps or behind counters at grocery stores. When you swipe and make a purchase, you could actually be downloading your personal information to a thief.
Outdoor pay terminals and ATMs
When you use an ATM or pay for parking at a prepaid machine, you might be opening a door for a criminal to access your banking information.
According to defense attorney Michael Kraut, these types of scams are common. “I probably have let’s say 30 of these cases a year. They can range from simple skimming technique to much more complicated,” said Kraut.
Smartphone apps and free services
Kraut says that apps and other free services offered on smartphones and computers may put you at risk because they may ask for credit card information to verify use. Even if you do not enter credit card information into your phone, simply downloading a scam app can give a hacker access to all of your phone information.
Temporary stores, such as T-shirt booths at concerts or sporting events, can also be a potential risk. Once you make a purchase, the temporary store may get up and go, and you may never see the vendor again. If they take credit card purchases, use a prepaid credit card to ensure you have capped any potential loss.
According to Kraut, prepaid credit cards are your best defense because they are renewable, reusable and eliminate exposure to your personal accounts. “That card can only be used, for example, $500 dollars. It doesn’t identify an individual and the worst that happens if a skimmer gets that is they take the value of that card,” said Kraut.