Top 4 Credit Card Scams and How to Avoid Them

Every day, it seems like there is another case of credit card fraud in the national news. The majority of cases are in the United States. In 2014, almost 32 million consumers in the United States faced data breaches affecting their credit cards — more than triple the number from the previous year.

Scammer Tactics

Credit card scammers have a number of sneaky ways steal data. Here are some of the most popular:

Scam Websites

Websites lacking proper security regularly steal your information, either by infecting your computer with viruses or stealing your credit card data outright.


Skimmers are small instruments scammers use to lift data off a credit card. They are often found placed illegally inside the card slot of bank machines or self-service gas pumps. Due to their portability, they are also used by nefarious waiters, clerks and customer service personnel handling credit cards.


A timeless tactic, phishing has been with us as long as there has been email. Thieves use a variety of ways to get you to click on an email that infects your computer with malware, making it easy to steal private information and credit card data.

Data Breach

The list of retailers, businesses and online merchants hit with majordata breaches seems endless. Thieves have hacked Centene, LinkedIn, Verizon, Target, Apple and many more.

The Cost to Small Business

Credit card scammers’ relentless attack on consumers indirectly affects small businesses. But scam artists also like to target small firms directly because often the security measures are easier to breach than those of a national company. Over 60 percent of cyberattacks go after small and medium businesses with fewer than 2500 workers, according to the 2014 edition of a Symantec report on Internet security threats. Therefore, small-business owners must constantly invest in better security.

Safeguards Against Scammers

To detect and prevent credit card scams in your business, you should be employing a variety of tactics Check ID and signatures closely; make sure addresses and telephone numbers match the customers’ accounts; be extra wary of large orders from brand new clients; and get verification codes for online orders.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) recommends using an address verification service and waiting to ship goods to clients who cannot provide a proper full name. By taking steps to verify card information, chargebacks drop by 26 percent, according to Visa. The same company also advises being wary of different billing and shipping addresses, keeping alert for big orders a customer wants to be delivered the next day, being diligent about order validation procedures, and reporting fraud immediately to law enforcement.

PCI Compliance

Did you know 60 percent of small businesses go under within 180 days of a security breach? That’s why PCI compliance is critical to help avoid credit card processing disasters. In fact, Fattmerchant helps make sure that every new member is PCI compliant within the first 60 days of their membership.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of protocols that is required for businesses that accept credit cards. They include installing a firewall, using encrypted transmissions, updating virus software, limiting physical access to credit card data, making sure each person with computer access has a unique ID, maintaining an updated data security policy, and limiting the number of employees that can access card data.

As credit card use proliferates, so do the number of ways scammers attempt to steal cardholder data. Be on guard for these scammer tactics, and employ these suggestions to keep their criminal hands off your client’s credit card information.

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