Tuesday 17 October 2017

What to do if someone hacks your credit card

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

SO you think your credit card might have been exposed to criminals? You might be right.

As we know, at least 80,000 Irish people have had their credit or debit cards exposed in a hacking attack on a Clare-based company, Loyaltybuild, that worked with SuperValu, Axa, the ESB and other organisations. While consequent theft is likely to be limited, banks are now starting to report some attempted fraudulent activity associated with the attack.

So what's the worst that can happen and what can you do to guard against it? Here are fives things to look out for, ways to protect yourself and typical methods that hackers use to exploit your cards.

* What to look out for: emails asking you to 'validate' a bank account.

While many had their credit card details taken, even more had personal information exposed.

This includes email addresses as well as names and physical addresses. That means that you may start seeing emails purporting to come from your bank (with the right logos and colours) that ask you to 'validate' your account by clicking a link.

The link will either bring you to a web page made to look like your bank's, where your security codes are requested, or a site that infects your PC with a virus.

* How stolen credit card money is laundered.

There are lots of ways for criminals to launder credit cards. One innovative way involves the manipulation of online betting sites that use an 'exchange' model where punters bet against one another.

"The criminal places a bet with your card on a sporting event that is almost certain to lose," said Conor Flynn, managing director of Dublin-based security firm ISAS.

"Another person, in cahoots with the criminal, accepts his bet and wins money from him, via the online betting exchange service. The cash is now laundered."

Another method involves buying gift cards, where some retailers give cash as change for giftcard purchases.

* Other hidden dangers: your credit history.

There may be more at stake than someone tying to skim your card in Kuala Lumpur. Even if unauthorised transactions are refunded, there are some cases where they can cause lasting damage.

"If an unauthorised transaction goes undetected, it could substantially raise the minimum payment on your card," said Conor Flynn.

"Many people might be in a situation where they're already at the edge of their current account limit. Even if the initial fraudulent transaction is repaid, it could create long-term difficulties relating to your credit history."

* Should I cancel my credit card?

Some security experts suggest that absolute prudence would be served by cancelling the credit card. However, others dispute this approach.

"The indications that we have received from banks are that there will be very limited fraud arising from this," said Una Dillon, head of Ireland's credit card industry body, the Irish Payments Services Organisation.

"Cancelling your credit card probably won't make a difference. Also, if you took all of the cards we're talking about, the banks couldn't physically replace them before Christmas."

* Other ways of protecting yourself.

Banks and data protection experts are advising people to check credit card and banking statements for any suspicious activity. In general, you'll be reimbursed for any unauthorised activity.

One other way of taking precautions is to check how much control you have over limits and transactions attached to your credit card.

Some issuers (banks) will allow you set predefined limits to transactions, beyond which you will be notified for each transaction.

Sunday Independent

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