For millions of people worldwide, the use of credit cards or debit cards with global spending capabilities have given them much needed monetary advantages while providing the peace-of-mind that comes with the thought of safely carrying around a piece of plastic rather than the ever vulnerable cash.
But for hackers, the very credit card that makes you feel safe, is a silent potential gold mine for their daily desire to financially mug unsuspecting card holders wherever they may be.
In essence, while a credit card is theoretically safe, the technologically naive habits of its owner are often the reason for a safe card to become unsafe.
Most card owners believes that once they can secure their card pin totally to themselves, and can ensure that it is used in a strictly controlled environment with vigilant practices, it may be impossible for an unauthorized character to actually benefit from its use.
However, if you are one of those persons that are rallying around with that belief, then rest assure that you might be dead wrong.
This is because hackers are not confined to your individual vigilance, and are always seemingly one step ahead of technological innovations that are aimed at keeping them out of the global financial network.
Being aware of the general vigilance of banks and credit card owners, hackers have reverted to a much simpler but technical tactic that would often force a card owner to innocently give up his or her financial credentials.
This ever widening tactic is called “Phishing”, and is widely blamed for billions of dollars in unexplained losses to consumers and the global financial network every year.
To deprive an unsuspecting card holder, attackers would generally send out a fake security alert email to a single or wider group of targets, informing them of a potential security breach or flagged transaction relevant to their respective bank account (or a purchase).
The email message will usually carry a link that shows a visible url that is consistent with the real web address of the bank (or online store), but would actually send the user to a different url or IP address once it is clicked.
The fake domain name or the phishing domain name will then display an identical user interface that would generally entrap even a seasoned online banker or experience shopper to think that they are actually logging into their banking or shopping portal.
At that stage the user will attempt to enter details that may be relevant to the use of their card via the phishing website, which would actually capture the entered data and then redirect the user to an actual unsecure page or the real login page of their bank or a particular merchant.
In that way, the card holder would not had realized that their credit card credentials are already captured, and may attempt to re-enter their credentials on the real site while showing some vigilance a little too late.
Thereafter, the hacker would usually have a virtual copy of the victim’s credit card, and may use it at their disposal with an almost impossible chance of ever being caught.
While most card owners may never be able to figure out how and when their card credentials were captured, the obvious scenario is that they had become a victim of phishing, and would have already been financially drained by the time they could have figured that out.
To many phishing victims, the mere simplicity with which hackers had reach them is often enough to leave them freaked out about their unexpected oversight.
After all, defending yourself against phishing is a much simpler exercise when compared to the other complex options that hackers can use.
In reality, guarding against such types of phishing requires no special effort or skills to protect the potential victim credit card details.
To avoid being entrapped by phishing, a card holder must never follow a link from their email inbox or another website that is supposedly directing them to the website of their bank or a merchant (such as Paypal, Amazon, etc), unless they are certain that it is from a trusted source.
It is always best to directly enter the web address of the merchant or bank that you are trying to reach, and always check your browser address bar to ensure that the entered data is consistent with your expectations or knowledge.
In a nutshell, that’s all you have to do to save yourself from this form of phishing.
Of course there are over a dozen other forms of phishing methods by which a hacker can still get to your financial credentials. But if you can start taking some simply precautions as explained here, then you may be on your way to taking more complex steps to guard your financial information.