6 Must-Do Tips for Avoiding Credit Card Scams

6 Must-Do Tips for Avoiding Credit Card Scams

When times get tough, the crooks start coming out of the woodwork. The last thing you need is to be hit by a Visa, Mastercard, etc. credit card scam when you’re already having a hard time making ends meet. With the current world economy, scammers are stepping up their game so you’ve got to be aware of what they’re up to and keep your credit, your money, and your identity safe.

There are probably a million ways to keep from being the victim of a credit card scam or fraud attempt, but the following six habits (and these are good habits to have) will go a long way in protecting you from Visa scams, Mastercard maliciousness, and Amex anomalies.

  1. Trust but Verify:

    If you receive a phone call from your credit card company, make sure you’re actually talking to your credit card company. Cardholders are increasingly reporting calls from “representatives” who sound official (even going so far as to present “badge numbers” and other official-sounding information) but end up being scam artists. If someone calls your home claiming to be from your card company, politely hang up and call the number on the back of the card itself and verify. At that point you’ve made sure you’re talking to a real credit card company rep and can address any issue they called about in the first place.

  2. Review Your Credit Card Statements:

    This is a no-brainer, right? I don’t even know why I mentioned this because you keep monthly tabs on your credit card activity, looking for odd charges, inconsistencies, and anything else unfamiliar. Reviewing your credit card statement may be the only indication you have that something’s wrong, so do it every time.

  3. Keep Your Card Hidden:

    At restaurants, the grocery store, or anywhere that a stranger might see your card, be sure to keep it under wraps. Visa debit card scammers (and other cards, too) have been known to sneak into legitimate businesses and install cameras to pick up either your card number or your PIN number. Keep them covered as much as possible. And don’t forget to be sure that, at a restaurant, your server actually picks up the “Merchant Copy” of your bill. Many places, but restaurants especially, print out the card number on the signed receipt.

  4. Use a Secure Site (https):

    We’ve already discussed how to spot a fake website, but now you’ve also got to tie that into the first item in our post “5 Simple Tips to Staying Secure Online“. The basic gist is this: When you’re submitting sensitive information, be sure to look in the address bar to make sure you’re on a secure, or “https” site.

  5. Keep One Card for Online Purchases:

    Using one credit card for online purchases will not only help keep your transactions easy to account for (“Honey, why did you put that flat screen TV on the Visa at Amazon?”), but it will also help reduce the hassle you’ll have if/when your card info gets stolen.

  6. Shred Old Credit Cards & Statements:

    It’s not enough to just toss out old cards and to put your old card statements in the recycling bin. Invest in a shredder, preferably a cross-cut shredder. They’re relatively inexpensive, safe, and easy to operate. And as an added bonus, they make it darn near impossible for crooks to get/read your credit card statements.

Keeping yourself free from the headache of identity theft, stolen credit cards, and unwanted purchases is your job. Sure, your card company may have monitoring in place, but only you truly care about the security of your account, so get proactive and learn to protect yourself from credit card scams.

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Rise of the LSO, AKA the “Super Cookie”

Rise of the LSO, AKA the “Super Cookie”

Since the dawn of the first web browsers dragging themselves from the sea to the land and gasping air for the first time (or something like that), there has been someone who wanted to track what’s happening in the browser. Whether it’s for remembering settings, keeping items in a shopping cart, or aiding in online marketing, the ubiquitous browser cookie has been a staple of the Internet since the early days of the Mosaic browser.

Today, however, there has been an evolution in the browser cookie life cycle, and it’s known as the LSO (Local Shared Object, AKA a “Flash cookie”). It’s not called the Super Cookie because it can leap buildings in a single bound, but rather because, like the Man of Steel, super cookies are pretty darn close to impervious when normal humans like you or I attempt to get rid of them.

What’s the difference between a browser cookie and a super cookie?

The super cookie is both scary and fascinating. Unlike its cousin the browser cookie, the super cookie is a Flash-based cookie that is stored in a different location on a computer than a browser cookie, can be much larger than the 4K allotted the browser cookie, and is much more difficult to uninstall (or even find on your PC) than the cookies you’re used to dealing with. In short, it’s a nightmare to deal with and opens up all kinds of privacy concerns.

What can I do about the super cookie?

Now, whether you want to keep or kill the super cookie is up to you. Like the browser cookie, a super cookie is only as evil as its creator, and most developers will likely use the LSO to make things like tracking general customer information easier vs. attempting to waylay your privacy and sell your data to the highest bidder. However, there are enough differences between browser cookies and Flash super cookies that it’s kind of a “Wild West” situation right now in the Land of Cookies.

If you’re afraid of someone using super cookies for evil (and lets face it, that’s a possibility), there are several ways to suppress or remove the LSO super cookie:

  • Manual deletion:

    The most tech savvy method to remove the super cookie, manual deletion is probably best suited for the technically minded. A super cookie is usually found in the “Flash Player” directory on your computer, but can be stored elsewhere. Use the search tool on your PC an look for the *.sol file extension.

  • Better Privacy (Firefox addon):

    If you use Firefox you can add the Better Privacy plugin to your install and let the addon work its magic on your LSOs.

  • Disable/remove Flash:

    Not a fan of Flash in the first place? Don’t care about certain videos or online games? If so, just disable or full-on remove the Flash player from your computer. If it works for iPhone users, it might work for you, too.

  • Visit Adobe:

    Adobe has a tool that you can use to update your settings quickly and easily. Just go to http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager03.html and set the “Global Storage Settings” to “Zero”. This will prevent new flash cookies from being put on your computer, but if you have any right now you’ll still have to remove them as described above.

As you can see, updating, removing, or changing the behavior of Flash super cookies is kind of a pain right now. But like always, we have to roll with the punches, right? Now that you know about the LSO, check them out every now and again and see if you want to keep them around or not.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2010.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2010.

The month of October 2010 is the 7th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) here in the United States. Internet (cyber) security continues to be at the forefront of our minds as we push further into the 21st century, and once again President Obama has made a presidential proclamation regarding the need for increased cybersecurity:

America’s digital infrastructure is critical to laying the foundation for our economic prosperity, government efficiency, and national security. We stand at a transformational moment in history, when our technologically interconnected world presents both immense promise and potential risks. (Read more)

We all have a part in taking cybersecurity seriously and addressing it in our every day lives. The staff of StopSign Internet Security software is proud be be part of the solution by providing excellent antivirus, antispyware, and firewall software as recommended by the Department of Homeland Security for every computer user in the US.

Special Offer: Once again we’re offering a special discount of 20% off our StopSign Internet Security software (which includes antivirus, antispyware, and firewall software [downloaded separately]) for anyone using the coupon code “NCSAM” during National Cyber Security Awareness Month. To take advantage of this money saving offer, visit the StopSign shopping cart and enter the code to get your special price. (The site will open in a new window.) Please note that the discount will not be applied to T4C game items or the StopSign CD box.

If you don’t see the coupon entry form right away, click on the coupon code link in “Step 2″ on the cart to enter your coupon code before you order!

StopSign is proud to endorse NCSAM by helping raise awareness regarding Internet security-related topics. For more information on National Cyber Security Awareness Month or government recommendations on cyber security, please visit StaySafeOnline.org.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.