30 Common Credit Scams:

A Guide for Financially Vulnerable Adults

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As the world evolves, so too does the way we manage and spend our money. The emergence of a digital age has brought with it a huge variety of benefits for the everyday consumer. From the ease of contactless payments to the ability to check our bank accounts from anywhere with an internet connection, the modern way of banking certainly has its benefits.

However, while the positives dominate the picture, it would be wrong to overlook the added threats that have emerged off the back of a move towards a digital financial landscape – particularly to vulnerable adults.

Con artists and scammers have always had methods for trying to deprive us of our hard-earned money. The introduction of the internet has, sadly, made their job a little easier. Credit cards are often the target of these attacks.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. One of the best ways to prevent yourself from falling victim to any kind of credit card scam is to know what a potential threat looks like and react accordingly. In this guide, we’re going to discuss 30 of the most common scams, and what you can do to best protect yourself.

Chapter 1

Understanding Credit Card Scams

In order to best position yourself to avoid falling victim to a scam, it’s good to have a more detailed understanding of how they operate, what the stats tell us, and useful tips to avoid putting yourself in a position of vulnerability.

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The History of Credit Card Scams

While something we think of as a very modern concept, credit has existed in one form or another as far back as ancient times. Consumer loans date back to around 3,500 B.C.E., when agricultural credit was given to help farmers in the settlement of Sumer afford crop cultivation in Mesopotamia.

The first (reported) case of a credit scam in the U.S. comes far closer to the modern day. Discovered to have happened in 1899, the case saw a criminal rummage through a livestock farmer’s garbage before finding a credit card given to him by a transportation company.

Over the next month, the perpetrator of the scam racked up a bill of $27 ($700 with modern inflation taken into account) for being carted across town in buggies called Hacks. Unfortunately for the farmer in question, he was forced to foot the bill when the transportation company came calling.

It wouldn’t be until 1970 that legislation was eventually introduced in the U.S. to protect those becoming the victim of a fraudster. Despite that, attacks are still commonplace. And while most scammers try to keep a low profile, there have been some instances of major scams that have seen billions stolen.

Shaking hands for a deal

Consumer loans date back to around 3,500 B.C.E.

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Some of the most notable cases of credit card theft in history are:

Best Western (2008)

Thousands of identities were stolen over a 3-month period when thieves were able to tap the Best Western IT network and steal credit card numbers, addresses, and phone numbers. Nobody was ever caught.

7-11 (2009)

Weaknesses in 7-11’s secure card payment systems meant that hackers were able to breach and steal the personal data of as many as 140 million customers. The issues cost 7-11 $12 million in repayment to those who’d been affected.

Target (2013)

The 7-11 settlement was nothing compared to what Target had to pay out to customers, though. As much as $2 billion was lost in December of 2013 when a new form of malware was able to break through Target’s firewall.

The International Credit Card Fraud Scam (2013)

This was the largest case to lead to an actual prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice. 13 people in New York and New Jersey were arrested when 7,000 fake identities were used to steal as much as $200 million. Thieves doctored credit reports to be given increased credit lines. The heist took place in countries other than just the U.S.

No matter what preventative measures might be taken, there’s always a risk of con artists exploiting loopholes. The trick, for both the average consumer and major companies, is to try and learn from these past mistakes.

Credit Card Scam Statistics for 2023

In the modern world, cash is no longer king. A 2022 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that as few as 20% of all payments being made in the U.S. were with physical money. And while that speaks volumes about how we interact with finance in the modern world, it also highlights why credit card crime is on the rise.

One report, from digital protection company Security.org, found 44% of credit card users reported having 2 or more fraudulent credit card charges at some point in 2022, up drastically from 35% in 2021.

The median amount stolen for the year was $79 (up from $62 in 2021), while the most common type of fraud occurred in the under-$50 bracket:

Man concerned with a credit card in hand

44% of credit card users reported having 2 or more fraudulent credit card charges at some point in 2022.

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(of all attacks)

Less than $50


$50 to $99


$100 to $299


$300 to $999



Reports also suggest that age may play a factor in those falling victim to a scam. The figures showed the following rates:


(of victims)

Baby Boomers

Born 1946 to 1964


Generation X

Born 1965 to 1980



Born 1981 to 1996

It’s estimated that as much as $165.1 billion will be lost to fraud in the U.S. alone across the next 10 years. In 2022, a whopping $5.72 billion was lost via transactions that didn’t even have the physical credit card present (such as online, over the phone, and mail-order transactions).

Perhaps most alarming of all is that an estimated 80% of U.S. credit cards currently in circulation have been compromised in some way. What’s more, as many as 7% to 10% of the adult population is believed to fall victim to some form of identity theft every year.

An estimated 80% of U.S. credit cards currently in circulation have been compromised.

Who Is the Most Vulnerable to Scams?

While anyone could realistically fall for a scam, some adults find themselves in positions that automatically make them a more likely target. Whether through innocence, a general lack of understanding, or even just external circumstances beyond their control, the following are some of the most vulnerable groups that scammers like to target:


Elderly Adults

This bracket is particularly at risk, typically owing to a lack of competency with technological devices and a higher accumulation of wealth over the course of their lifetime. Cognitive degeneration may also kick into effect for some elderly people who won’t be able to realize they’re being scammed.

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Individuals With Disabilities

Similarly, those with disabilities may lack the support they need to identify and prevent a scam. While scams might be obvious to some, individuals with learning difficulties may not spot them straight away. Without that protection, someone with a disability could be exploited financially or robbed outright.



It’s a wider lack of experience that places students in the vulnerable bracket. While they might be continuing to develop their understanding of the world, most have had very little experience with financial management. Con artists know this and try to take advantage where they can.


People With a Low Income

Those with fewer funds to begin with might be more susceptible to scams that promise to save them money. They could have an urgent need for the cash, meaning they overlook the possibility of what’s being offered to them being a scam.


People High in Debt

Along a similar train of thought, those in debt will be more prone to ignoring the red flags of a credit card scam. Scammers prey on the false hope that their scheme gives people.


Single Parents

When raising a child alone, money is always going to be tight. What’s more, a single parent may have less time to take a step back and do their research when a seemingly good offer presents itself. This makes them susceptible to rash decisions which could see them fall victim to a scam.


People With Poor Emotional Health

Those who are experiencing prolonged or short-term periods of poor mental health may be vulnerable to scams. They won’t think things through as thoroughly as when their emotional state may be more balanced.

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Whether through a lack of understanding of local laws and customs, or even just a basic language barrier, immigrants are an easy target for scammers. Complicated documentation and processes may be intimidating to them, and it could be that they’ll happily pay off whatever they’re asked to avoid supposed prosecution.


Military Personnel

Frequent moves and deployments to new areas make military personnel another likely target. With a very long paper trail, it’s believable that something may have been lost or overlooked.

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Past Victims of Identity Theft

If someone has previously been the victim of identity theft, they’re more likely to believe that their personal information has been compromised again. This could result in a knee-jerk reaction which sees them pay out money fraudulently.

How To Improve Your Credit Card Security

While the threat of a credit card scam may sound quite scary, the reality is that you can take steps to ensure you’re far less likely to become the victim of an attack. Keep these factors in mind when trying to prevent a financial crime.

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Secure All Devices and Networks

Where possible, make sure you’re using passcodes (that are hard to guess), 2-step authentication, and fingerprint or face recognition technology if your phone or smart device is capable of doing so. Also, think about turning off the autofill function on your computer. While handy, this stored information makes it a lot easier for hackers to poach.

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Keep Everything Private

Be as secretive as possible with your private information. Only give out your credit card number when you’ve called the bank directly (not when they’ve called you). Also, make sure to keep your card number hidden when paying with it in public.

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Shred Your Old Receipts

Make sure to thoroughly dispose of any receipts that you no longer need. In the case of paper bank statements, it might be worth converting to paperless. This removes the need to destroy them, while also lowering the chance of them being delivered to the wrong address.

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Regularly Check Your Account

One of the best ways to stay on top of actions in your account is to check it daily. While this won’t necessarily prevent an attack from happening, it will put you in the best position to take the immediate action needed to recover your money.

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Report Lost Cards Immediately

Likewise, if you do suspect someone is acting fraudulently on your account, you should contact your bank or credit issuer straight away. They’ll be able to block any payments being made using your card.

Chapter 2

30 Common Credit Scams and How To Avoid Them

It’s time to look in closer detail at the kind of scams that are out there, as well as steps you can take to prevent them from having an impact on your life. From imposters claiming they’re from the government to untrustworthy sweepstake schemes, here are 30 of the most common credit card scams to be aware of.

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Scam 1

Skimming Scams

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Skimmers are small devices which are often attached to industrial card reader machines (such as an ATM or a gas pump). They work by reading the magnetic stripe on the back of your credit card and will often be found in areas where you’re likely to see a lot of footfall – such as a tourist-heavy location.

Despite sounding like a relatively rudimentary type of attack, the number of skimming incidents continues to grow year-on-year in the U.S. There was a steep rise of 759% total reported incidents in the first half of 2022 alone when compared to the previous year. Incredibly, as many as 53% of these happened in California.

What To Watch Out For:

One of the trickiest aspects of avoiding a skimming scam is how difficult the devices are to spot. While that’s the case, you may still be able to notice that an ATM or other card reader has been tampered with. If you don’t feel safe inserting a physical card into a machine, use a mobile device or contactless payment instead.

Scam 2

Credit Card Interest Rate Reductions

These attacks see scammers prey on vulnerable people looking for a much-needed reduction in the amount of interest they need to pay back on their credit. In order to take advantage of this fantastic offer, all you need to do is pay a one-off lump sum to the company on the other end of the phone. People who fall victim to this kind of scam will never see any change to their interest rates and will struggle to get any of the money they paid to the fraudulent business back.

What To Watch Out For:

If you ever receive a call like this, it’s important to remember there’s nothing any company can do to improve your interest rate that you couldn’t already do yourself. If you get a cold call like this, hang up.


Scam 3

Randomly Generated Credit Card Numbers

Sometimes a fraudster doesn’t even need to get their hands on your credit card number to be able to take advantage of you. It’s now possible for them to use a computer program to generate thousands of potential credit card numbers and CVV codes in seconds.

These will be used to run a series of test micro-purchases until they find a combination which results in an approved transaction. At that point, the scammer will use that approved number to make larger purchases.

What To Watch Out For:

While it’s impossible to preempt this, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Setting up transaction alerts with your credit card issuer will allow you to instantly see if anyone is trying to make a payment fraudulently. Failing that, make sure to check your credit card statement in detail when it arrives. If you notice anything awry, report it immediately.

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Scam 4

Identity Fraud

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In 2021 alone, identity fraud accounted for a staggering $28 billion in losses. The modern approach to identity fraud often centers around direct contact being made with the victim. A scammer will reach out to an individual and lure them into giving up personal information, including credit card details.

This can be done via a number of methods, but usually revolves around tugging on heartstrings or using fear tactics on unsuspecting victims. Once they’ve convinced a victim to hand over their credit card details, they’ll use them to make large payments.

What To Watch Out For:

These kinds of attacks usually begin with emails, text messages, and phone calls. If you’re contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or saying that you owe a debt, be very wary. Ask for explicit details, and never give out any personal information when you talk to them.

Scam 5

The Charity Scam

Most of us have an inherent nature to want to help others. Unfortunately, it’s this goodwill which particularly nasty scammers will prey on when perpetrating this scheme. Shortly after a natural disaster, like a hurricane, flood, or earthquake, you may receive a cold call, text, or email asking to help support victims.

The caller often claims to be from a respectable organization, and cites the matter as urgent. Those wanting to support what is in theory a noble cause may be quick to hand over their card details.

What To Watch Out For:

Never give out any financial information to a caller like this, even if it seems legitimate. Write down everything they tell you, then do your own research after the fact to see if what they were saying was true. If you can’t find anything online, they were probably a scammer.


Scam 6

Phishing Scams

One of the oldest techniques in the book for internet scams, phishing happens when a person is sent an email with a message prompting them to click on a link to a fraudulent site. When doing so, users will often be greeted with what seems like a legitimate landing page – usually to a bank or commercial website. At this point, the victim might be tempted to add credit card details in order to make a payment. In reality, they’re just handing over their personal data to a criminal.

What To Watch Out For:

There’s usually some clear warning signs when it comes to this kind of scam. Some of the most common include things like:

  • Spelling errors in the copy of the email
  • A weird email address that has odd characters
  • The email not matching up to previous ones sent by the same company
  • A bank asking for personal details, like a PIN number

If all else fails, get in touch with the organization who supposedly sent the email to find out if they really contacted you or not.

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Scam 7

Identity Fraud

As technology continues to evolve, thieves become more creative. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) sees a criminal use a device to virtually “scrape” your credit card information by standing close to you. While these forms of attack are less common, further improvements to technological power could see that change.

What To Watch Out For:

These kinds of attacks often occur in close quarters when a lot of people are around. That usually means places like nightclubs and bars. It’s now possible to purchase dedicated wallet blockers (usually made of leather or aluminum foil) to stop a scammer from being able to read your card.

Scam 8

The Threatening Cold Call

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A classic tactic of con artists for generations, cold calls that threaten to prosecute an individual often trigger panic in more vulnerable targets. Common examples of issues they might cite include someone not paying their taxes or (ironically) committing credit card fraud themselves. It’s estimated a whopping 70 million Americans lost money to phone scams in 2022.

What To Watch Out For:

Cold calls in and of themselves are usually a sign of a scammer. It’s rare for something not to be sent to you in writing first. What’s more, you will never be asked to hand over sensitive financial information over the phone if you really are in trouble with the law or the IRS.

Scam 9

Government Imposters

As the name suggests, this scheme sees a scammer calling, claiming to be a representative of the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC). They’ll often claim that you owe money and will usually use the names of legitimate FDIC employees they’ve found online in order to convince a victim of their authenticity. It’s this latter tactic that can sometimes make these calls particularly hard to ignore.

What To Watch Out For:

The U.S. Government will never directly reach out to someone asking for their personal details over the phone. The FDIC themselves go as far as to say: “The FDIC would never contact you asking for personal details, such as bank account information, credit and debit card numbers, Social Security numbers or passwords.”

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Scam 10

“Formjacking” on Trusted Websites

Malicious software (malware) can sometimes be injected into the website forms of legitimate businesses. This allows a hacker to steal your private info (including credit card data) when you’re making a purchase. A particular favorite of scammers is Ticketmaster. It’s estimated that nearly 11 million Americans will get scammed buying tickets every year.

What To Watch Out For:

It’s understandable you might trust the website of a real vendor, so it can be tough to catch formjacking before it happens. Installing antivirus software on your computer should help to detect a lot of malware, while masking credit cards in Apple Pay will also make it harder for information to be stolen.

Scam 11

Hidden Small Purchases

If a criminal does manage to get their hands on your personal data, they’ll sometimes only make small purchases using the card. These are a lot harder to spot but can add up quickly if they’re continually made over a long period of time. Your credit card issuer will eventually catch on, but by that point it might be tough for them to get your money back.

What To Watch Out For:

This is another instance where having automatic and approvals alerts set up for every purchase can be really handy. Even if it’s something small like a few dollars, you’ll be able to act quickly if you know you were definitely not the person using your card.

Scam 12

The Hotspot Scam

It’s easier than ever to find an internet connection to latch onto when you’re out in public. Unfortunately, these hotspot networks can sometimes be a trap set by crafty scammers. They’ll ask for a small charge to be able to use the Wi-Fi they’re offering. In reality, you’re handing over your access to credit card data to a con artist by joining an unsecured network.

What To Watch Out For:

If you’re at a public establishment of any kind, make sure to ask an employee or worker there for the correct Wi-Fi network to join. If it costs anything, they’ll let you know upfront how much you can expect to pay. Also try to avoid logging into any sensitive accounts while using the connection, as it’s hard to tell who else might be watching what you’re doing. Using a VPN is a good way to mask your IP and hide yourself from a scammer.

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Scam 13

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Scam

Again preying on the more vulnerable in society, scammers will often target people who receive SSI, claiming that they’re either owed more money or need to pay some of what they’ve been given back. They’ll rush someone into giving out personal details like their Social Security number or their card details for an immediate payment.

What To Watch Out For:

Again, this kind of error will never need immediate rectification – and certainly not over the phone – without proof in writing. SSI scams are particularly cruel, as they target demographics who may already have challenges with managing their money.

Scam 14

Fraudulent Sweepstakes

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A particularly ambitious scam sees people running false lottery sweepstakes. They’ll claim that an individual has won a huge prize then they ask them to pay an upfront prepaid tax sum in order to get access to the winnings. A recent case centered around a Mississippi couple who managed to steal more than $300,000 from their unsuspecting victims.

What To Watch Out For:

It’s very rare if you win a prize to be asked to pay an upfront fee in order to access it. If you think that the reward may be legitimate, reach out directly on your own behalf to the company in question. They’ll quickly clear up the situation, and, in the unlikely event there are fees to pay, won’t take them over the phone.

Scam 15

The Overcharge Scam

As more payments are being made with cards online, this particular scam is growing in popularity. It’s relatively basic in nature. You’ll be contacted and informed that your card was accidentally overcharged for a recent purchase. All you have to do is hand over your card details and they’ll be able to send you the money back. Often, they’ll address the target via their name, which can sometimes be convincing to those less familiar with the scam.

What To Watch Out For:

Like most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And, even if you are owed money by your credit issuer, you shouldn’t be receiving it via a phone call or email. Check your credit statement to see if you can spot any genuine anomalies, then reach out to your issuer yourself.

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Scam 16

Public Wi-Fi Exploitation

Less a directly targeted scam and more a mistake which people continuously make over public Wi-Fi, this attack sees a man-in-the-middle (MITM) intercept unsecured financial data that you’re sending between yourself and your bank. Hackers will lurk around areas with a lot of public footfall (such as restaurants and coffee shops), waiting for someone to prey on.

What To Watch Out For:

Your best bet here is to avoid accessing any kind of sensitive financial information when using a public Wi-Fi connection (if you even need to use one). This significantly lowers the chance of anyone being able to intercept information you’d rather keep hidden. Again, a VPN is a good option here.

Scam 17

The "Sign-up Farm"

Bizarrely, victims of this scam are often partially responsible for the illegal use of their cards. People with average-to-good credit scores will be contacted and asked for use of their Social Security numbers in exchange for huge lump sums.

Scammers then use their cards to rack up huge reward points, convert the points to cash, then cancel the cards. This sometimes leaves the victim with a huge amount owed and very little they can do to fight the charge. After all, they sanctioned it in the first place.

What To Watch Out For:

While it can be tempting to make a quick buck (sometimes figures of up to $10,000 are promised), you should never sell your Social Security number to anyone for any reason. It’s illegal and can only end badly for you – even in the incredibly unlikely event you are given the promised lump sum.

Scam 18

Fake Websites

For those who are less digitally savvy, scammers have been able to create websites that look and function in a similar way to legitimate pages. While these are probably quite obvious to most on thorough inspection, they’re often linked to emails claiming to be from the site in question. They’ll include fake login and payment areas that are designed to trick someone into handing over their data.

What To Watch Out For:

Whenever clicking on a link from an email or text message, be sure to look for spelling errors and website functionality before entering any personal information. If you’re unsure of what a site’s URL should be, check it elsewhere online first to see if it matches up.

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Scam 19

Dumpster Diving

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It may sound like something you’d expect from the distant past, but searching through the garbage for private data is still a low to which some criminals are willing to stoop to. They’ll be able to get hold of sensitive information if you’ve accidentally thrown out a replacement card, as well as any preapproved cards and bank statements.

What To Watch Out For:

The key here is to make sure you’re leaving your personal data in an unreadable state when you throw it away. Shred any paper statements, and cut cards up to the point where nothing on them is legible.

Scam 20

Social Media Fake Friends Scams

Social media has become a haven for criminals who’ll use a variety of methods to reach out and obtain personal information such as credit card details. Alongside posting phishing links to fake websites and forms, you may also get added by someone who claims to be your friend using a new account.

In reality, this fake persona will likely send you a link that contains malware. Also, make sure to avoid downloading any apps which aren’t directly from an official app store.

What To Watch Out For:

If a friend that you recognize adds you, make sure to reach out to them on a different social media platform to see if it’s really them. Never click on online competitions or promotions, and don’t give any credit card details away in order to get supposedly free subscriptions.

Scam 21

Big Ticket Items

An estimated 218.8 million Americans will shop online at some point in 2023. With so many options available on the net, it’s little surprise that bargain hunting has become a major factor in the buying decision of most consumers. Savvy scammers are well aware of this and create fake companies and websites with big-ticket items slashed to minuscule prices in order to lure in eager shoppers. In reality, the product you’re paying for doesn’t exist.

What To Watch Out For:

If a brand that you’ve never heard of is trying to sell you a MacBook for 20% of the recommended retail price, you should be very wary. Try to only buy expensive products from trusted household names. If you’re really not sure, type in the name of the site you’re on and check for other online reviews.

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Scam 22

Investment Scams

Also known as “boiler room” scams, con artists will ring you up claiming to have an investment deal that’s too good to be missed out on. In a lot of cases, they’ll include fake testimonials, videos, and even marketing packages to make the scam appear as legitimate as possible. In reality, they’ll be promoting something with absolutely no guarantee of success – that’s if it’s even a real investment to begin with.

What To Watch Out For:

It’s best not to invest your money in anything you haven’t thoroughly researched first yourself. It’s quite unlikely a cold caller will be able to offer you something that is truly that good of an investment decision. After all, if it was that good, they wouldn’t have to reach out to random people.

Scam 23

Keyloggers and Spyware

One particularly nasty type of malware sees a scammer able to infect your computer with software that records everything you type. Known as a “keylogger,” this criminal tech holds a record of every piece of information you’ve ever entered on your keyboard — that means stuff like emails, passwords, credit card information, and more. All the data is sent back to the owner of the keylogger who is able to use it for their own purposes.

What To Watch Out For:

Keyloggers and other types of spyware are often picked up during phishing attacks. As such, it’s again good practice to never open any link sent to you by a source that you don’t entirely trust. Keep security software on your computers and laptops up-to-date as well.

Scam 24

Courier Scams

Scamsters will reach out claiming to be from a financial organization, like a bank or credit issuer (or sometimes even the police), stating that your account has been compromised in some way. They’ll say that a courier needs to come and collect your cards or that you have to make a high-value foreign currency purchase for collection.

What To Watch Out For:

You’ll never be asked to hand over your possessions to prove your identity. And you certainly won’t ever need to buy something in another country to prove you’re in charge of your own account. If you hear anything linked to a courier, immediately hang up.

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Scam 25

Prepaid Card Scams

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A prepaid card works in the same way as a credit or debit card, but is effectively useless once the prepaid amount that was added to it has been spent. Scammers will often ask for you to load one of these cards with money and send it to them in exchange for a prize (be it money or a big ticket item). They’ll usually ask you to load it using a credit card.

What To Watch Out For:

If anyone asks you to load up a card with money and send it to them, it’s always best not to. This cheap trick is often targeted at more vulnerable adults who are urged into giving up large sums of cash through fear tactics and emotional blackmail.

Scam 26

Friend and Family Fraud

While not something you might ever imagine happening, in extreme cases, it’s those closest to an individual who might use their personal information for illegal purposes. They might find it easier to access your cards, while it’s also easier for them to open a line of credit in your name (if they’re a carer or legal guardian). While this is rare, and unpleasant to think about, it’s still a consideration that has to be taken into account.

What To Watch Out For:

If a family member is asking for a lot of sensitive information without a clear motive as to why, it’s best to keep your cards close to your chest – quite literally. Keep physical cards stored somewhere private, and don’t tell anyone your PIN number or credit card security code.

Scam 27

The Hotel Room Scam

In one of the more inventive attempts at stealing personal data, scammers will now cold call hotel rooms. They’ll inform guests that they’re a member of the staff and that there’s been an issue with their credit card payment.

At this point, they’ll ask a guest to confirm all details. Most often, this kind of attack takes place very early in the morning or late at night. This catches the victim off guard, while also dissuading them from leaving their room to talk to a member of staff at the front desk.

What To Watch Out For:

If you get an odd call like this, supposedly from the hotel you’re staying in, be sure to make the effort to walk down to the front desk to ask what’s going on. You’ll soon find out if the call was legitimate or not (it almost always won’t be).

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Scam 28

COVID-19 Test Scams

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Playing on the lingering fear surrounding COVID-19, some con artists will text those in vulnerable brackets information about tests and vaccines. The messages contain links that lead someone to a page where they’re asked to input personal data. As you can imagine, the form in question is totally fake and is just another way for information to be stolen.

What To Watch Out For:

Any news or information relating to COVID-19 will always be available on a government website. While this particular scam is certainly less popular than it was at the height of the pandemic, it’s still something that people need to be wary of.

Scam 29

Catfish Scams

One of the crueler forms of deception, these scams see someone creating a fake account to entice someone into a disingenuous romantic relationship. They’ll convince the victim that they’re prepared to start a new life with them and use this close bond to slowly steal money, credit card details, and other sensitive information. Unfortunately, the person on the other end is usually a fake – and probably isn’t even showing their real face.

What To Watch Out For:

It’s best to avoid getting into a romantic relationship with someone you’ve never met in person. With that said, it’s also important not to quickly divulge financial information to someone you’re dating in real life either. If anyone you’re connected to romantically asks for it, always proceed with caution.

Scam 30

Fake Ukraine Fundraisers

As is sadly quite often the case, tragic world events are the playground of con artists. The recent crisis in Ukraine has led to a lot of them sending text messages and emails asking for money for the families of those affected. In reality, these funds go straight to the pockets of the person on the other end of the message.

What To Watch Out For:

Never donate to a cause that you aren’t completely sure is legitimate. Find fundraisers that have been organized by established charities and groups rather than clicking on links sent to you by a random stranger.

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Chapter 3

Becoming the Victim of a Credit Card Scam

Even if you’ve gone out of your way to ensure you don’t fall prey to a scammer, it’s impossible to guarantee that you won’t still be targeted. In the unlikely event that you do become a victim, there are steps to take to retaliate and protect yourself. Let’s now discuss what you should do if you become a victim, as well as how to report any such incident.

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What To Do if You’re the Victim of a Credit Card Scam

Your immediate reaction after realizing you’ve been targeted in a credit card scam will likely be to panic. And while that’s understandable, take some comfort in the knowledge that there are steps you can take to reduce the impact it’s going to have on your life. Here are some of the best things to do when you get targeted:

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Let Your Card Issuer Know

There should be a customer service number on the back of your credit card. As soon as you realize you’ve been targeted, call the issuer and let them know the full circumstances. They’ll be able to freeze your account and help you dispute any payments which you didn’t make.

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Look at Your Credit Report

It’s also wise to ask for a free credit report from the 3 major bureaus ( Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion ). This is a quick way to discover if any lines of credit have been falsely taken out in your name. You can also learn how to fix (or dispute) errors and mistakes on your credit report in our detailed guide.

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Consider a Credit Alert or Freeze

Setting up fraud alerts shows creditors that they should take extra steps to verify your identity before giving you a loan. If you choose to freeze your credit report, fraudsters won’t be able to open up any lines of credit in your name altogether. Putting an alert on your credit report also gives you the option of receiving 2 free copies of your report from each bureau across a 12-month period.

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Change All Online Passwords

It’s likely that fraud may have occurred due to an online account being compromised. Make sure to go online and change your password for your bank and credit card accounts, your email account, and any other accounts that might store financial information. Use a strong password created by a secure generator, not just one you made up yourself.

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Monitor Account Activity

Even if you’ve taken all the above steps, it’s still wise to continuously monitor your credit card statements to guarantee there haven’t been any unauthorized charges. If there have been, repeat all the steps we’ve already discussed.

The most important thing to remember when reporting a credit card scam is to be prompt. The quicker you act, the more likely you’ll be able to protect your credit score and get your money back.

How To Report Credit Card Scams and Fraud

When you get targeted, it’s only natural that you’ll want to alert the right authorities as soon as possible. But who are they? While you’d instantly call the police if your house had been robbed, the same isn’t true of credit card scams. Here are some of the best places to turn in the event that you’re targeted:

Your Credit Card Issuer

Turning to the company that issued your credit card is always a smart place to start. It will be able to take immediate action and can work with you to help get your money back and protect your credit score.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

This organization works on a national level and gives consumers the chance to register financial complaints when they've become the victim of an attack. Aside from this, it also provides resources to help vulnerable adults better understand money management and protection.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The FTC is a federal agency that works to prevent fraud and deceptive business practices. You can also report that you’ve become the victim of identity theft through the FTC.

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The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

This union between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center works to help those who’ve been a victim of fraud. You can file a complaint online, which in turn could see the organization clamp down on the scammer who took advantage of you.

The State Attorney General’s Office

If you want to take your issue to the highest possible office, report it to the State Attorney General. It’s this office’s responsibility to protect consumers and prosecute any businesses which engage in fraudulent activity.

Chapter 4

Useful Links

While we’ve discussed a lot in this guide, it’s always useful to understand as much as possible about credit card scams and how to protect yourself. If you’d like to continue discovering more about this topic, make sure to check out these handy secondary sources:

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