8: 00 AM – Our flight lands at the Pearson International Airport, Toronto.
8:10 AM – We disembark from the plane.
8:15 AM – I buy coffee from a well-known coffee place. I pay around 9$ for coffee and breakfast.
8:25 AM – My card is cloned and someone in Laval, Quebec (~500 miles from Toronto) rents a car using my credit card.
8:35 AM – The same person goes to Home Depot to purchase something using my cloned credit card.
8:40 AM – I try to use the credit card to pay for my rental car. The card does not work.
It is amazing that 5 minutes after I paid for breakfast, my credit card was cloned and used by someone else in another city! Even the credit card systems were fooled into thinking that it is an authentic credit card that was used.
Credit card fraud has been a huge headache for credit card companies. Even with multiple fraud prevention systems in place, hackers find a way around it. What can we – as credit card holders – do to make sure our credit cards are not misused?
The following security protocols are available to ensure that your credit card does not get jacked:
RFID Keys (instead of a credit card) – The most common place for your credit card to get cloned is a gas station. Hackers place a magnetic strip inside the swipe machine on the fuel pump. When you swipe your card, it copies the data. To avoid this, you could use an RFID (Radio Frequency ID) key. Some companies like ESSO provide you with an RFID tag (like Speedpass) that you tap on the fuel pump. Your credit card number is not stored on the key – the key just gives you an access to operating the pump. Their backend (internal systems) store your credit card information. Since you do not use your credit card, there is no possibility of your credit card details to get stolen.
Secure Code – Companies like Mastercard have a password over and above your credit card number. When you use your credit card online, you are prompted to use your password along with your credit card number. This makes it more secure for online transactions.
Pre-paid credit cards – Another option is to use pre-paid credit cards for travel and online transactions. Your liability is limited to the pre-paid amount. Also, you could recharge the card. And most importantly, your regular credit cards won’t get cloned.
Inform your travel plans – Before you travel, you could inform the credit card company of your exact travel plans. If you are supposed to be in Washington D.C and your credit card is swiped in New York, the credit card company can block it immediately.
As credit card companies implement multiple anti-fraud systems, hackers constantly up their ante to beat the systems. As credit card users, we can contribute towards keeping our credit card information secure.
If you don’t keep a close watch on your credit cards, don’t be surprised if someone on the other side of the globe is enjoying a nice meal on your credit card!