How to Protect Your Credit Card

Credit cards are convenient and secure for making cashless payments online and in-store, but they need to be protected and managed properly: here are some tips.

The boom in online shopping and state cashback based on electronic payments has caused the number of times we use credit or debit cards to skyrocket. This tool, once reserved for the wealthy, is now much more widespread and appreciated because it brings to all the benefits of electronic payments.

But, just as cash carries risks, the use of payment cards can also bring us problems. Albeit very different ones: the enemy is no longer just the pickpocket on the bus, but also the hacker on the other side of the world. Credit/debit cards, in fact, need to be protected from attacks both when we use them in physical stores and, indeed especially, when we use them to buy online. Here are some useful tips to protect your credit card every day.

Credit cards: how to protect them in store

Credit or debit card cloning in a physical store or while making a withdrawal at the ATM is a rare eventuality, but possible. There are two methods: manipulating the payment instrument or the ATM, in order to steal the card data, or taking photos and videos while using the card to get the number and PIN.

In both cases you have to be careful: if the POS or ATM seems damaged or tampered with, do not use it. While paying, we also try to defend our privacy from prying eyes, cameras or video cameras.

Credit cards: how to protect them online

On the Web, threats to credit or debit cards are daily. The most common is phishing, that is the attempt to steal card data through a message (email or SMS) that contains a link to a counterfeit site. On this site we are asked to enter our card details in order to finalize a payment, but the data is stolen.

The latest example of this kind is the phishing email of the fake express courier, which is going around again just in these days. Defending yourself is relatively simple: just don't ever believe messages asking you to enter your card details, especially if they ask you to do so urgently.

More difficult, however, is to defend yourself against "data breaches", i.e. data thefts against sites and companies that have recorded our card details because we used them as payment methods previously. To avoid them, it is best to shop online only on sites that use reliable payment circuits and recognized throughout the world, which use the protection protocol 3D Secure.

If a hacker manages to violate a site that contains the number of our card and the holder, in fact, can try to use the card by forcing the CVV (the three digits that are on the back of the card).

The violation in this case is done by automated methods: many payment attempts are made with different CVVs until the right one is found and the transaction goes through. From that moment on the card is at the disposal of the fraudster.

Depending on the credit card it is possible that the card issuer will handle such incidents by blocking payment attempts if too many failures are detected in too little time. If the card is connected to an app, then, almost always we receive a notification even when the transaction does not go through and, thus, we can notice if someone is trying to pay with our money.

Some cards, then, can be paused: in this way, all transactions, even those that we will make with the correct CVV, will be blocked and we will receive the notification.

Usually, those who try to violate a credit or debit card do it at night, to avoid the owner noticing the flurry of notifications. It's a good idea, if the card allows it, to always pause it and only activate it just before making a transaction.