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Forensic Science for Healthcare Professionals

Is Your Credit Card Safe? Know more about credit card frauds and safety.


Dr. Bhoopesh Kumar Sharma
Forensic Expert

One evening suddenly, you receive a message that there has been a purchase of USD 2000 from your card at so-called electronic store. You are surprised because neither you have done one, nor you were aware of. And you realized that you had been a victim of credit card fraud like millions of people around the world. You called the bank to block the card, but its too late, you receive another message of more purchases.

credit card fraud

Oops! How hard it is to digest? Your all income has gone by one swipe or click. Therefore, we need to be aware of different types of credit card frauds and methods to prevent such criminal activities.

Read Article: 

Thousands hit by credit-card fraud in the UAE, but what can be done?

Card fraud starts with either the theft of the physical card or the misuse of the account-related data, including the card account number or other information that would be regularly and automatically accessible to a merchant during a legitimate transaction. The compromise can take place on many common routes and can typically be made without at least tipping off the cardholder, the dealer, or the issuer until the account is actually used for fraud.

Below is the flowchart that discusses about the common types of credit card frauds:

credit card fraud

There are various ways, in which the fraudster commits such activities, like:

1. Stolen cards: It may be used for fraudulent transactions when a credit card is lost or stolen until the issuer notifies the issuing bank and the bank puts a limit on the account. However, this is now is quite traditional as the added security feature of OTP on mobile phones of the actual user. But in case of physical purchases, this is still one of the best method opted by fraudsters. A thief might possibly buy thousands of dollars in goods or services without other security measures before the cardholder or card issuer knows the card was compromised. In many countries or tourist places, still the merchants do not look for any signature or ask for pins. Currently, the new option of wi-fi (touch pay) pay has added to the problem.

2. Compromised accounts: In a variety of formats, card information is stored. Card numbers – the Primary Account Number (PAN) officially – are often embossed or imprinted on the card, and a magnetic stripe on the back holds the data in machine-readable format. Fields may vary, but the most common of these are:

  • Name of the cardholder
  • Card number
  • Expiration date
  • Verification/CVV code
A thief of identity lures you to a fake website where your card number is fooled. Your credit card information is then used by the thief for fraudulent purchases.

3. Card not present transaction (CNP): Mail and the Internet are big fraud routes against retailers selling and delivering goods and impacting legitimate mail order and internet merchants. The credit card holder can be tracked by mail or phone. Your credit card information is sometimes compromised without your own fault. In a data breach that affects one of your favorite stores, your credit card number may be revealed. Thieves can then use this information with your credit card account numbers to rack up online charges. It is difficult for a merchant to verify that the actual cardholder is indeed authorizing the purchase. Shipping companies can guarantee delivery to a location, but they are not required to check identification and they are usually not involved in processing payments for the merchandise.

4. Identity theft: It can be done through account takeover or application fraud. Application fraud occurs when a person in the name of another person uses stolen or false documents to open an account. Criminals can steal documents such as bank statements and utility bills to create useful personal information. Additionally, fake documents can be made. They could open a credit card account or Ioan account in the name of the victim with this information and then draw it in full.

If offenders pose as a legitimate customer, gain control of an account and then perform unauthorized transactions, an account takeover occurs. An account acquisition refers to the act by which fraudsters attempt to take ownership of a customer's account from a wide range of service providers such as credit cards, telephone, banks, and more.

5. Skimming: The perpetrator can acquire a victim's card number using basic methods like photocopying receipts or more sophisticated methods like using a small electronic system (skimmer) to swipe and store hundreds of victims ' card numbers.Common scenarios for skimming are restaurants or bars where the skimmer has possession of the victim's payment card out of their immediate view. The criminal may also use a small keypad to unobtrusively transcribe the security code of the three or four-digit card that is not present on the magnetic strip. Another field where skimming can easily happen is the call centers. Skimming can also occur when a third-party card-reading system is mounted either outside or inside a fuel dispenser or other card-swiping terminal at merchants such as gas stations.
how skimmers are used

6. Phishing: Scammers may use a variety of schemes to induce victims to provide them with their card information through tricks such as websites that pretend to be a bank or payment system. It is also possible to use telephone phishing to set up a call center and appear to be affiliated with a banking organization.

How to counter frauds? Preventive Measures:

1. Firstly, before you buy something from an unknown seller online, google the name of the seller to see if the consumer's feedback was mostly positive.

2. When making online payments, check that the website address starts with https:/, a secure data transfer communication protocol, and confirm that there are no grammatical errors or strange words on the website. This means that it might be a fake designed solely to steal your financial information.

3. Never discuss your card pin with anybody for an ease. Many times at gas-stations we are so lazy to get out of the vehicle, and just say our PIN to the seller, this can be a dangerous situation later on.

4. You must, every month promptly and carefully review every credit card statement before making payments. This will definitely keep a check for any fraudulent activity at any point in time.

5. Destroy all your old statements.

6. Never fall to be a victim of phishing. 

7. While online transactions, try to use virtual keyboard. This will safeguard your data from being stolen.

8. Do not shop on unauthenticated online sites (lucrative on social media).

9. Report your lost card to the bank immediately. Even you found it later at your home. Be a step ahead and proactive.

10. Don’t provide any personal information, including a credit card number, unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not reach out, asking for your credit card number.


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