Category Archives: Credit Cards

Stop Getting Hacked: 4 Steps to Obtaining and Using a Free EMV Credit Card

Image By: tales of a wandering youkai

Most Americans can successfully play the “six degrees of separation” game when it comes to knowing someone whose credit card was hacked in the last couple of years. In fact, stolen Target cards in 2013 alone accounted for $53.7 million in income for hackers. Although many folks remember the Target breach, few people remember that 20 other major data breaches occurred in 2014. The reason, is at least in part, is due to the lackluster security technology in our existing credit cards.

The traditional magnetic stripe cards require only a signature for security purposes, and any security system built around low paid retail employees checking signature verification is destined to fail. Who hasn’t sent a friend or relative off with a credit card to buy gas or to purchase groceries where no one questioned the difference in signature on the back of the card and the signature on the terminal or receipt?

Thankfully, there is a more secure form of credit card. Chip Cards, known as EMV or “smart cards”, add another layer of fraud protection through an embedded microchip that turns card member information into unique codes that is difficult to replicate. Plus, if your card is stolen, thieves cannot use EMV data to create usable counterfeit payment cards.

EMV enabled cards, have been around for about ten years in about 80 countries worldwide, but are only recently being adopted by the US, due to legislation that forces merchants to accept them by October 1, 2015. Currently, about 10-15 million chip credit cards already have been issued to U.S. consumers. Additionally, about one million out of more than 10 million POS (Point of Sale) terminals have already made the transition, and as merchants renew with their existing provider or pick a new credit card processor, they are adding the capability.

What Can You Do Now?
1. Find Out If Your Card Is Available in EMV Format: Check out this page at EMV Connection, which shows an up-to-date list of EMV issuers and the availability of EMV cards in the U.S. You can use this list to know what to ask for when you call your credit card company for a replacement card. Or, you can learn more about the card you may already have in hand. In fact, if you received a new credit card from your issuer sometime in the past year, you may already have experienced the technology without realizing it.
2. Request a Free EMV Enabled Card: Will you need to pay for these chip cards? Not if you already own a credit card. All you need to do is call your card issuer or go online to that issuer’s website and request an EMV card. Although banks have been rolling EMV cards out as renewal card replacements, you may need to ask your issuer specifically for that EMV card if you are traveling soon. Most credit card companies won’t issue a card at any time other than renewal unless you ask.
3. Start Using It Wherever Possible: Most new cards issued will contain both the stripe and the chip. So, if you’re standing at a credit card terminal and you aren’t sure what to do, just enter the card in the card slot. If the EMV terminal isn’t ready for your card yet, the machine will show an error and you’ll be prompted to swipe it. If you try to swipe a chip card in an EMV-activated terminal, the same thing will occur – an error message and a prompt to insert the card differently so the machine will read the chip.
4. Memorize Your PIN: Unmanned terminals at automated kiosks may now ask for a PIN number with EMV cards. This is when you DO need to worry. In the past, card holders didn’t need to memorize their PINs, and now they do. Don’t carry a list of PINs around with you, either, because the risk of that EMV card and your PIN list being stolen is just as high as it’s ever been.
Trading out your old magnetic stripe credit card for a chip enabled credit card provides you with a more secure, but equally convenient, way to pay for your transactions. Additionally, remember, that you should use the chip on your card whenever possible, you shouldn’t carry a PIN list around with you, and you should shred your old cards. Taking these simple measures can go a long way to minimizing the risk of credit card and identity theft.
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Rich McIver regularly writes about consumer protection and advocacy as it relates to the credit card processing industry. He is the founder of MerchantNegotiators.com, and can be reached via Twitter or Facebook.

NXT-ID claims Wocket™ is useless to thieves

By: bozontee’s golden zebra

Once upon a time, Dr. Seuss wrote a book called There’s a Wocket in my Pocket where a little boy talked to strange creatures living in his house. Nobody really knew what a Wocket was though. NXT-ID, Inc., a biometric authentication company, wants everyone to carry around a Wocket™ in their pocket. The company NXT-ID claims Wocket™ is useless to thieves has plans to launch the Wocket™ in New York City on May 28.

Wocket™ is considered the newest smart wallet heading to the e-commerce market. At the launch consumers and media will get the first look and feel of the smart wallet that claims to zeroize each sale immediately making the Wocket™ useless to thieves.

The patent-pending Wocket™ uses biometric solutions to secure consumers’ mobile platforms. The smart wallet is designed to replace all the cards in your wallet without the need for a smart phone. It will be 3.7”W x 2.75”L x .39”H. The smart wallet only becomes accessible through a unique combination of voice, PIN or pattern. It was designed to keep Wocket™ transactions separate from regular transactions in order to keep Wocket™ transactions secure by zeroizing each card after use.

Wocket™ isn’t the first smart wallet on the market. It is an evolution of the smart wallet’s already on the market. Google offered a smart, virtual wallet to help consumers’ keep their information secure. Google Wallet comes in the form of an app or a card that stores credit card and loyalty card information all in one place.

Security is the biggest concern for smart wallets since they were designed with consumer security in mind. The Google Wallet offers 24/7 fraud monitoring and Google Wallet Purchase Protection. If your phone or card is lost or stolen it can be disabled through a Google Wallet account.  The Wocket™ doesn’t offer a protection program instead it offers a guarantee.

According to the FAQ, the creators say, “while we can’t ensure that your card never gets stolen, we can guarantee that it’s worthless to anyone that gets a hold of it. Each time after the dynamic card is used, it is zeroized. Thus, it is merely blank piece of plastic to any ambitious thief.”

There are very few other smart wallets on the market. The Wocket™’s biggest competitor appears to be Google Wallet, but there are a few other smart wallets attempting to emerge on the scene including the PING wallet and the SmartWallit.

As Target breach grows, retailer embraces security options

Target’s data breach over the holiday season turned out to span far wider than the original numbers estimated.  The major retailer said the breach that happened between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013 compromised the financial information of approximately 40 million shoppers shortly after the breach occurred. Recently, the company informed consumers that it had uncovered an additional 70 million to 110 million customers who may have had their names, mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses stolen.

The data stolen from Target was originally thought to come from the terminals where customers swipe credit and debit cards. The retailer said originally that the only information affected was the information stored in the magnetic strips on the back of customers’ cards. The retailer learned shortly after that customers’ encrypted PIN data had also been obtained. The latest revelation by Target is raising more concerns because personal information isn’t stored on the magnetic strips on credit and debit cards.

Target’s data breach has severely impacted the company and will continue to as long as more information about the breach becomes known. The retailer has apologizes to customers for the broadening violations of customers’ private information.

“I know that it is frustrating for our guests to learn that this information was taken, and we are truly sorry they are having to endure this,” Gregg W. Steinhafel, Target’s chief executive, said in a statement to the New York Times.

Target is now offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to customer’s for one-year free.  The one-year offer includes a credit report, daily credit monitoring, identity theft resolution, identity theft insurance and ProtectMyID ExtendCARE, personalized assistance from a highly-trained Fraud Resolution Agent after the one-year period expires.

Target has listed tips for customers who wish to protect their information:

“Never share information with anyone over the phone, email or text, even if they claim to be someone you know or do business with. Instead, ask for a call-back number. Delete texts immediately from numbers or names you don’t recognize. Be wary of emails that ask for money or send you to suspicious websites. Don’t click links within emails you don’t recognize.”

A FAQ page has been set up on Target’s website to deal with information regarding the data breach and information related to other scams.

Credit Card Processors Stealing from Business Clients

credit card scamsConsumers already worry about businesses storing and possibly stealing financial information. Now consumers have to worry about the credit card processors stealing the information from businesses. Recently, several proprietors of a credit card processing company  have been indicted on several charges in Phoenix, Arizona.

The various charges include money laundering, wire fraud charges, and changing contract terms among other charges. Sean Clinton Mecham, 36, Ashley Brisbin Mecham, 27, Jonathon L. Cannon, 31, and Jake Brisbin, 26, were all indicted by a federal grand jury.

According to court documents, the accused were executives and employees at Icon Payment Solutions, Axiom Merchant Services and Oracle Payment Services. These companies are all the same company just under different names and they processed credit card payments for retailers.  Prosecutors allege that the quartet were misleading customers, forging the signatures of business owners and deposited $2.9 million of the ill-gotten gains into personal accounts. The money was then used to buy a luxury boat, Maserati cars and off-road trucks for racing.

There were multiple complaints against the quartet and the companies that they owned to the Better Business Bureau.  The accused Continue reading Credit Card Processors Stealing from Business Clients

5 Credit Card Safety Tips for Travel during the Holidays

credit card scamsTraveling during the holidays should be fun. It shouldn’t be filled with worry and stress. Using a credit card instead of cash or a debit card can make travel during the holidays less stressful and less risky. Use these five tips to keep from becoming a victim of credit card fraud.

Pick One Card

Pick one credit card to take with you. Make sure you have a copy of it, but store this copy in a safe place. Carrying multiple cards can lead to the loss of one or more of them.  When you pack for traveling remember to remove all other cards and store them in a secure location.  If your wallet or purse get stolen while you are traveling it is much easier to deal with one stolen card instead of six.

Separate Your Credit Card from Purse or Wallet

Don’t keep your credit card in your purse or wallet. Purses and wallets, particularly  Continue reading 5 Credit Card Safety Tips for Travel during the Holidays

Don’t Double Swipe Your Credit Card

don't double swipe your credit cardThe Credit Card Association of the Philippines (CCAP) has given the message “Don’t double-swipe credit cards” to commercial establishments and retailers. The advice is good for customers, too. The practice of “double-swiping” can compromise the data security of credit cardholders.

Alan German, a spokesman for CCAP, said that criminal groups are targeting Point-of-Sale systems, stealing card data and customer PINs.

German told ABS-CBNnews.com, “In many cases, the second swipe results in the credit card’s full data to be retained by the merchant in its own system. Effectively, this unnecessary practice increases the merchants’ vulnerability to potential data compromise… This loose data, so to speak, can then be used to create counterfeit cards, engage in identity theft, and perpetrate fraud.”

The reason “double-swiping” has become common among retailers is because it is often used for customer loyalty programs, record-keeping or other aspects of the retail-operations.  The second swipe of a credit card is most often unrelated to authorization or transaction settlements with the retailer.

German believes that if card issuers and merchants understand the risks in double-swiping cards, they will undertake measures to protect their businesses.  Understanding the risks would also protect credit cardholders from potential identity theft and other types of fraud.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says the bad news is that we are all vulnerable to identity theft, but there are ways to protect yourself: “First, don’t carry your social security number on any documents in your purse or wallet; change your driver’s license or any other documents to different numbers. Next, lock your mailbox and be sure to stop mail when you’re out of town for more than a few days. Shred your trash with a cross cut shredder. Be careful what you say about yourself in public –especially when you’re on your cell phone. Finally, you can protect your computer with a fire-wall, anti-virus software, or a program that removes spyware.”

Another item that the FBI might list on their website to protect customers and retailers is “Don’t double-swipe your card.”

College, credit and identity theft

credit card scams

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links, which help to support this site. However, all opinions expressed are 100% my own.

This post will be a little more personal in nature.  Recently I went shopping with my 25 year old son, who is getting ready to embark on the grand adventure of marriage.  Together we visited the jewelry stores.  He was hoping to find the perfect engagement ring to give to his soon to be fiance (we were pretty sure she would say yes) and I was there to negotiate the best price.  Finding the perfect ring we discuss the price.  Once we get the price the store was ready to accept we now have to find out the best way to pay for this item.

Like many college students (he graduates this December as he worked full time his way through college) he didn’t have the amount saved because every penny counts.  Having never had any credit since his car was paid for (thank you grandma and grandpa), as was his housing and other expenses we thought now would be a good time to begin to build it.  After all the cost of the ring was not that bad and it would be a good way to get started on the way to responsible credit use. Getting his bonuses over the next six months and each of them could pay for the expense, he decided to fill out the application.  After all, who knows a few years from now the next thing I hope to help him find is a new house (somewhere closer than 1900 miles away).

“I’m sorry, you weren’t approved,” the salesperson tells us.  Crushed, he quickly becomes curious, and asked to see the denial.

Lesson no. 1 If denied credit always ask to see the written response, you may be surprised.

The denial says he has unpaid credit card bills and outstanding credit (not outstanding as in really good either!).  But how can this be he asks.  Other than his monthly cell phone bill he has not had any credit cards, no monthly payments.  Not even student loans, because although he took one out his first year they are deferral because he is in school.   “Mom! What do I do?”

Lesson no. 2 Run your credit report immediately.  He can start with his free credit report, but considering these circumstances he may want to use a service like CreditSesame because they also offer additional services to help him stay on top of his credit rating.

We ran his credit report and now the work really begins.   It’s time to clean it up.  There are a number of different problems with it, from fraudulent use of his name, Social Security Number, creation of a new identity using his old address and of course the big problem, unpaid items of credit, whether it was a fast cash item or credit card.   “How did this happen?” he wonders.

Lesson no. 3 It can happen a number of ways from old mail, credit card offers in the mail, his Social Security Number used at the college or even a so called friend or roommate which had access to his information.  Stolen wallets, filled out forms, responding to spam messages, there are a whole number of different ways that this happens.  Maybe he was just unlucky.  Most identity theft takes bits and pieces of the true to create a “new you.”  That’s where this gets messy.

What can you do?  Now it’s time to take action.  Either file a dispute through the credit monitoring service that you are using or grab some pen and paper and do it the old fashioned way.   Either way you need to contact the credit reporting agencies with the information that is incorrect, correct it and include any proof that you may be able to provide.

Lesson. no 4 Some say you can file with just one agency and that all the information will be sent to all three.  However, to be safe I recommended that my son send the information to each of them if he didn’t want to file it online.

Here are some sample letters to use when filing your dispute.

Should you take the snail mail route here are the mailing addresses for each of the three reporting agencies.

TransUnion
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834

Experian
P.O. Box 9530
Allen, TX 75013

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

Remember mistakes can be made on anyone’s credit report but it has been reported that identity theft is on the rise for college students, so pass this information on to them so that they know what to do.

 

Combating Harmful Debt Collection Practices: Debt Collectors Respond

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has put debt collection companies on notice against harmful debt collection practices. CFPB has also released new tools to help consumers communicate with debt collectors and resolve collection complaints.

CFPB explains that most collection firms treat consumers fairly, but the ones that don’t “can cause financial harm to consumers and undermine the financial marketplace.” The bureau is in the business of protecting consumers. It warns debt collectors that “any entity that is subject to the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 is legally required to refrain from committing unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices that would violate the Act.”

The “Action Letters” Continue reading Combating Harmful Debt Collection Practices: Debt Collectors Respond

Credit Card Fraud Getting Smarter With Security Code Calls

credit card scamsGenerally speaking, credit card fraud is a pretty straightforward crime. Information is stolen and the card is used fraudulently. These days, however, scam artists are getting smarter. Now, they need only get part of your information. The rest they are getting right out of our own mouths. A recent credit card scheme in Boulder, Colorado is actually using the victims themselves to get the final piece of the puzzle.

Criminals are obtaining partial credit card information and then calling the victims posing as members of the Security and Fraud Department of your credit card. After giving you the information they have for your card, they then ask you about a suspicious purchase that never happened. When you say you did not make that purchase, they then promise you a credit to your account to make up for the fraud.

They confirm your address and then they claim they are starting a fraud investigation. They advise you to call the 1-800 number if you have questions and give you a fake control number. Finally, they have you “verify” that you have the card and ask for your security code on the back of the card. For the exact wording the criminals use, you can go here.

Most victims that have followed up with the real credit card companies quickly realize that they were had. Almost immediately, fraudulent purchases will show up and the gig is up. What folks don’t realize is that real security would never need information off your card. They were the ones that produced the card and gave it to you. They would have no reason to ask you for it.

What this particular scheme tells me is that people need to realize that phone calls from companies are not to be trusted. The bottom line is this. If you get an unsolicited phone call from a bank, credit card company or solicitor of any kind, hang up and call the company directly. Nothing good can come from a phone call that is instigated by someone other than you for business.

Of course, the scary part of this scam is how they got the information off your card in the first place. Perhaps they used a slider, skimmer or simply saw it when you were paying for something. The ways in which information can get stolen these days is amazing, so keep your information close to the vest. Doing so will ensure that you don’t have to worry about this in the future. This is only the newest thing that is happening but they will continue to evolve and change. Keep on top of things and protect your information like gold.