Since everything has gone online, we are so conscious of how great the online world is and all the opportunities it gives us, and how much easier it makes previously mundane and time-consuming activities.
However, the online world is not all sunshine and rainbows, and the online world is rife with individuals who have ill intent.
High-profile hacks of enterprise-level companies in recent times have thrust the risks of identity theft into our minds. You can be concerned about all of your personal information, from your identity, your online data, and of course, your financial assets.
However, did you know that half of all the credit card fraud out there is conducted by using online spyware.
These fraud schemes are highly profitable for the villains who do it, they actually steal billions of dollars every year from unsuspecting and unaware computer users and companies.
So, let’s delve a little further into how this works, and if you should actually be worried about malware and its capabilities to steal credit card information.
Spyware/ Malware And Its Place In Credit Card Fraud
Once you encounter this malware during your usual activities online, it will silently start collecting your information, eventually wreaking havoc on your PC.
All done without you even knowing, it runs in the background, recording your browsing habits and keystrokes, monitoring the programs you use and collecting all your personal information. Of course, it is this that can lead to serious consequences, influencing credit card fraud and identity theft.
Once the spyware has sent your personal data to the villains, they may sell your information to other criminals or fraudsters, or impersonate you using this stolen information.
On occasion, they may even attempt to add themselves or an alias that they control as an authorized user to your credit card account so that it is easier for them to use your credit.
They may request new account PINs or even add additional cards, they might also make purchases or obtain cash advances as well.
Of course, the criminal is not the one who pays for it all the time.
The extent of the damage to online identity theft varies from case to case, but if there is one thing that you can be sure of then it is that if you fall victim to this then it is your time, money, and peace of mind that takes the toll of their actions.
Most victims do not even realize what has happened until it’s much too late, and they end up having to restore their credit records, suffer increased interest and insurance rates due to corrupted credit, health, or driving records, have to fix malfunctioning, infected computers, and suffer lost productivity.
The Most Common Ways Credit Card Information Is Stolen
So, how does this happen? Well, there are a few versions of the ways that criminals can do this. First is phishing, this is when hackers attempt to steal your information by impersonating a trusting source.
Phishing schemes can come in several forms, from phone calls to fake websites, and even sales emails.
Then there is the malware we are interested in. Which reminds us to be careful where we place our trust. You need to be careful what you download.
Accidentally downloading malware or spyware can enable hackers to access information stored on your computer, which can include, email information, passwords, and yes, your credit card information and other details.
It can include a keylogger that will also record your keystrokes and browser history, then send it off to the hacker.
There is also skimming, data breaches, public Wi-Fi networks, and many more ways in which criminals can steal your information.
How A Computer Virus Can Steal Your Information
There are so many ways in which a type of malware could infect your computer, however the types which can steal your data and therefore your credit card information are the ones we typically call ‘information stealers’.
They are made by criminals who create them from keyloggers, screen recorders, and memory scrapers. They perform many tasks from recording the keys that you press, taking screenshots of your desktop at random intervals, and all of this is sent to the designer of the malware, where they can see all the data they stole, what you typed, and viewed on your computer.
They can then use this information to steal passwords and credit card numbers.
These types of malware can be taken from anywhere, however, most will find they are often obtained as part of an EXE. File, so if you download a program, the malware can come attached to it.
They can also be found in torrent folders, email attachments, and anything else which may be directly downloaded onto your computer.
Sadly, malware cannot infect your computer unless it is actually installed or downloaded by you. This is why it pays to be very vigilant of what you download.
How To Prevent And Avoid It?
So, knowing all this, you want to know how you can prevent credit card fraud from happening to you through malware.
Well, first off, let’s say that online credit card fraud and identity theft can be absolutely devastating, so you want to be proactively preventing spyware damage.
Which is actually much less expensive than you may think, and it is much less expensive than having to pay to restore your credit, identity, and your computer.
So, what can you do?
Well, you can do any of the following;
- Only use varied and complex passwords on your accounts.
- Always check the accuracy of your personal accounts and resolve any discrepancies immediately.
- Only provide personal information on sites that have https:// in the web address, or have a lock icon at the bottom of the browser.
- Do not ever provide any personal information to any unsolicited requests for information.
- Always avoid questionable websites.
- Be cautious of emails, and practice safe email protocol.
- Only download software from sites that you trust, and carefully evaluate free pieces of software and file-sharing applications before you download them.