What credit card information can I give out over the phone?
Most people understand the importance of keeping their information safe online. But many neglect to take the same measures on their mobile devices. Some research has shown more than half of all mobile device owners have no password protection on their device, despite more than a third using it for mobile banking.
Criminals use sophisticated methods to commit identity theft and credit card fraud. They may call you posing as a trusted source, hack public Wi-Fi networks, or even steal your mobile device. It’s crucial to exercise caution when giving out any personally identifying information (or PII) on a call or mobile site.
How to identify fraudsters on the phone
Fraudsters may call while pretending to be your bank or credit card issuer. Sometimes they pose as financial companies claiming they can save you money, such as during interest rate reduction scams. You may also receive robocalls, which are spam calls from automated machines. Last year, Americans received 26.3 billion robocalls. You should always be wary of unsolicited calls, no matter what the person on the other side says.
Never give your full PIN or online banking passwords over the phone. Legitimate banks and credit card issuers will never ask for this information, although they may need up to three digits of your PIN to confirm your identity. It’s also important never to share credit card information unless you are certain the call is from a trusted source. If you have given your credit card details to a suspicious caller, notify your issuer immediately. They can cancel your card and launch an investigation.
Personal information, including your full name, date of birth, Social Security Number, and address can also be used to commit fraud. Criminals can use these details to apply for credit cards in your name or ‘validate your identity’ with your bank to access your account.
No bank, credit card issuer, or legitimate financial company will ever call asking you to transfer funds to a new account, make investments, or download unofficial banking apps. Fraudsters may pretend there are urgent issues with your account to pressure you into providing details. Hang up and call your bank or credit card issuer directly if you have any concerns.
How to protect your information on your smartphone
Mobile banking and shopping apps allow us to manage money on the go, but they also give criminals new opportunities to target victims. Even if you haven’t received any suspicious calls, you could still be vulnerable. There are several techniques criminals use to steal sensitive data from mobile devices. Here’s how you can stay safe:
Protect yourself when using public Wi-Fi connections
Identity thieves can use unsecured public Wi-Fi to steal information from connected devices. Security experts advise that it is always safer to use your mobile data. If you do need to connect to public Wi-Fi though, remember that password-protected networks are more secure. Also, avoid making purchases or using online or mobile banking over public networks. VPN (virtual private network) apps and software can offer an extra layer of protection for your online activity if you frequently rely on Wi-Fi hotspots.
Password protect your device
Set a strong passcode on your mobile device so your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands if your phone is lost or stolen. Use a long PIN or passcode pattern to make it difficult for fraudsters to unlock your device. Biometric features like fingerprint detectors also offer high levels of security. Remember to always lock your smartphone when it’s not in use, and set it to automatically lock when you turn it off or after a certain period of time.
Encrypt your data and be prepared to wipe it
Most mobile devices have encrypted data by default. If yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to change this within your settings. You should also back up your mobile data by storing its settings on a cloud service or syncing it with your PC or Mac device. This way, if your phone is stolen, you can remotely wipe your data without losing your contacts, apps, and files. Set up remote wipe, so you’re able to erase your phone’s content if it’s stolen. Remote wipe features may also help you to track the location of your device.
Be wary of suspicious texts and apps
Criminals can use unsolicited texts and illegitimate apps to steal your data. If you receive a text from a source you don’t recognise, do not click on any links, as they may be a phishing scam. Criminals may also use fake banking apps to download malware onto your device to track you and steal your information. Only use the App Store and Google Play when downloading apps, or conduct thorough research when using third-party apps to ensure they are legitimate.
Perform regular updates
Regularly updating your mobile device’s operating system will help keep your device secure. Don’t ignore update reminders. If you need to, charge your phone and clear some memory to install the latest updates.