Anyone can be a victim of credit card scams, but teenagers and college-aged students are often the target of credit thieves. Most of the instances of credit card scams involving teenage victims occur online. This is no surprise, as teenagers comprise the largest segment of internet users. Although the number of older adults is catching up, teenagers do more online shopping than nearly any other group. It is because of this use of the internet that they become prey to credit card scams.
The number of credit card scams grows each day. Credit card and identity thieves have become very inventive with methods of getting information from victims. They have also become quite sophisticated, using high-tech equipment to steal credit card information. Even though many teenagers may be aware of scams, they are often prone to dropping their guard, which is exactly what credit thieves are counting on. Unfortunately, teenagers and credit scams seem to find each other. Here are some examples of how teens can become victims of credit card scams.
Bogus websites- Teenagers are always looking on line for bargains on music and clothing. Many thieves know this and set up bogus websites that capture teens’ credit card numbers and personal information.
Skimming- This involves thieves swiping an unsuspecting teen’s credit card through a device that records the information from the card’s magnetic strip. This can happen at any retail location, restaurant, or popular hang-out location.
Public Wi-Fi- Many teenagers visit restaurants and other places that offer free Wi-Fi. However, credit card thieves at these locations can monitor Wi-Fi activity and capture credit card information the moment the card is used online.
Friends- Teenagers often trust their friends with access to their credit card information. However, not all friends are reliable. They fall to the temptation of using the credit card information to buy items online or many other purposes.
How to Avoid Scams
Most credit card scams operate the same way. The thief simply gains access to a credit card number and its security code by some deception, copies the information onto a bogus credit card, and then uses the card or sells it to others. Teen should be taught to be watchful for anything that sounds too good to be true. Here are some ways that teens can protect themselves from credit scams.
Avoid unknown websites- If you aren’t familiar with a website, don’t use it to make purchases. Use only well-known and trusted websites.
Monitor your card- Never let your credit card out of your sight. It only takes a moment for someone to skim a card.
Secure credit information- Don’t give out credit card accounts and personal information to anyone who doesn’t need it.
Report loss immediately- The sooner your credit card company knows of a lost card or suspected theft of card information, the sooner they can do something about it.
Monitoring Your Credit Score
It may seem like a simple thing, but by monitoring your credit report and score, you can catch credit card thieves in the act. Many thieves will try to change a person’s mailing address so that they can order replacement credit cards or to open new credit card accounts. Monitoring your credit can catch these types of activities before it’s too late.
You can order your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus. They can be contacted via mail, phone, or online. You can receive one free copy of your credit report annually. However, if you have a teen who is actively using the internet for shopping, it may be wise to monitor credit reports and scores frequently.
When you get your credit report and score checked, possible credit card fraud can be identified and brought to the attention of law enforcement. It may seem that catching credit card scammers may be difficult, but eventually even the best of them gets caught. They become overconfident and believe that most people won’t bother checking their credit reports. You can help catch them by regularly monitoring your credit report for signs of fraud.