12 Biggest Credit Card Scams That Can Leave You with Nothing

By Krystal Brown

Scammers can use stolen credit card information to make unauthorized purchases, open new accounts in the cardholder’s name, or even commit identity theft. We take a look at 12 of the biggest credit card scams. 

Phishing Scams

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Phishing scams involve sending fraudulent emails or text messages that appear to be from a legitimate company, such as your bank or credit card issuer. The scam email or text message will often contain a link that, when clicked, will take you to a fake website that looks like the actual company’s website. Once you enter your credit card information on the fake website, the scammers will steal it.


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Skimming is a type of fraud in which criminals use a device to steal your credit card information when you swipe your card at a point-of-sale system. Skimming devices can be attached to ATMs, gas pumps, and other payment terminals.


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Shimming is a type of fraud in which criminals place a fake overlay on a legitimate payment terminal to steal your credit card information. Shimming devices are often complicated to detect, so it is essential to be vigilant when swiping your card at a payment terminal.

Identity Theft

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Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, and credit card information, and uses it to commit fraud. Identity thieves can use your stolen information to open new credit accounts in your name, make unauthorized charges on your existing credit accounts, and even file fraudulent tax returns.

Overcharge Scams

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Overcharge scams involve criminals charging you more than the agreed-upon price for a good or service. Overcharge scams can occur online, in person, or over the phone. For example, a scammer might call you and claim to be from your credit card issuer. They might then tell you there is a problem with your account and that you must provide them with your credit card information to fix it.

Charity Scams

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Charity scams involve criminals posing as representatives of legitimate charities to collect donations. Charity scammers can be persuasive, so it is essential to be careful when donating to charities, especially if you are contacted by phone or email.

Reward Scams

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Reward scams involve criminals promising you rewards, such as gift cards or travel, in exchange for your credit card or personal information. Reward scams can be delivered through email, text, or social media.

Advance Payment Scams

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Advance payment scams involve criminals asking you to pay them upfront for a good or service they never deliver. Advance payment scams can occur online, in person, or over the phone. For example, a scammer might post an ad for a car or a job online. They might then ask you to pay them a deposit to secure the car or the job.

Hotspot Scams

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Hotspot scams involve criminals creating fake Wi-Fi hotspots in public places, such as airports and coffee shops. When you connect to a fake hotspot, the scammers can steal your personal and credit card information.

Arrest Phone Call Scams

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Arrest phone call scams involve criminals calling you and claiming to be from the police or another government agency. They might then tell you that you have a warrant for your arrest and need to pay them a fine to avoid being arrested.

Account Takeover Scams

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An account takeover scam is a type of fraud in which a scammer gains access to your online account, such as your bank account, credit card account, or email account, and then uses it to commit fraud. Account takeover scams can be very costly and damaging to victims, both financially and personally.

Emergency Scams

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Emergency scams are a type of fraud in which scammers prey on people’s emotions and urgency during a crisis. Scammers may pose as family members, friends, or government officials to convince victims to send them money or personal information.

Hints and Tips to Prevent Credit Card Scams

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Here are some tips to protect yourself from credit card scams:

  1. Be careful about who you give your credit card information to. Only give your credit card information to trusted companies and individuals.
  2. Be vigilant when swiping your credit card at a payment terminal. Look for any signs of skimming or shimming devices.
  3. Regularly review your credit card statements for any unauthorized charges.
  4. Check your credit report regularly for new accounts or credit inquiries you did not authorize.
  5. Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication for all of your online accounts.
  6. Be careful about clicking on links in emails and text messages from unknown senders.
  7. If you feel nervous about using a credit card, speak with family and trusted friends who can help you.

If you think you have been a victim of a credit card scam, contact your credit card issuer immediately. They can cancel your card and issue you a new one. You should also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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