There are a number of places where your credit card information can be hacked. All of them have to do with using what is called a skimmer. More cases of credit card thieves using "skimming" devices to steal unsuspecting customers' credit card information are popping up across the country.
When a credit card is run through a skimmer, the small device stores the cardholder's data. Once the credit information is obtained, the thief can then sell the information or clone the credit card. First, restaurants and gas stations. Gas stations are a favorite target for thieves. Last year, four men were arrested for allegedly stealing $2.1 million using skimmers at gas stations in the south. The skimmers were installed in the pumps and were even equipped with bluetooth, which allowed the thieves to come by and extract the collected numbers and pins wirelessly! Fake ATM's: Skimming devices have been found in large banks and bodega ATMs. All it takes is a quick setup and thieves wait for data to come in. Usually they're installed for just a few hours and removed quickly. The criminals then put the stolen information onto blank cards which they can use to make withdrawals.
There's also malware/software. For example, a single threat might virus-style steal your personal information like spyware and use technology to hide itself from your antivirus. A scareware program might also steal private data. The term malware encompasses all of these types of malicious software.
What can we do to ensure our security?
My first suggest is a prepaid card nearly fee free and comes with many features at no additional cost. Its features include purchase protection, roadside assistance, entertainment access, and global assistance. In addition, if you report the loss or theft of a registered card to the issuer, most will restore your original balance and issue a new card. You also have some of the same protections offered by a bank, in that the amount on your card is FDIC-insured up to $250,000. That makes a debit card that acts like a credit card a fairly safe bet.
What about using a debit card as a credit card?
You should never use debit cards except to withdraw funds at bank ATM. With a credit card, you can always dispute fraudulent charges before you pay them. That's not the case with a debit card, which is tied directly to your bank account. You can still get reimbursement for fraud on a debit card, but it will probably be well after the fact. Hackers can drain your funds before you know the card number has been stolen. Don't use it for payments at all. Just treat it as an ATM card and even then, watch out for covert pin-capturing cameras or skimming devices affixed to a cash machine. Use debt cards only in bank ATM machines, not at in-store and in-casino atms where hackers and thieves can more easily tamper with the machines.
Check out former hacker and cyber security hacker Gregory Evans' website at gregorydevans.com.