Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Secure your Credit Card information

Internet Fraudsters keep on finding new methods of using the Internet to scam innocent consumers and online users, which is said to be the common targets. This fraud is very popular because of its anonymity and less risk involved. Added to the fact that not so many countries are already ready to face this disaster and have strong policies and law to pursue the case against the suspected fraudster.
Fraud on the Internet includes, but is not limited to: fraudulent or fake web sites, untrustworthy websites, phishing (fishing) for personal information with fraudulent emails, Online auction frauds - buyers and sellers, increased Nigerian 419 Advance Fee Fraud, Lottery Advance Fee Scams, Business Opportunities & Work from Home Scams, International Modem Dialing and Cramming, and credit card fraud.

Take the first 8 digits of a standard 16-digit credit card number. Search for them on Google. Since the 8-digit prefix of a given card number is often shared with many other cards, about 1/4 of credit card numbers in my random test, turned up pages that included other credit card numbers, and about 1 in 10 turned up a "treasure trove" of card numbers that were exposed through someone's sloppily written Web app.

Protect from what?
The most common and most successful frauds are done through the use of stolen credit card information, which was obtained in many ways:
  • Worms that contains malicious code to extract information from the infected computers. In the past, worms were designed primarily to propagate. Now, many of the significant worms are designed to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, pin codes, and passwords and send the information to the attacker for nefarious purposes including identity theft. Unfortunately, attackers have become very adept at circumventing traditional defenses such as anti-virus software and firewalls. Arovax Shield detects and notifies you about all major online threats trying to penetrate your system, isolates & blocks them.
  • Frauds can get access to information about your online credit card payments through your PC in case you ever used online services for purchasing something from the sites that are not secured.
  • Installation of keyloggers and monitoring software of the users’ computers. Keyloggers are a form of spyware that tracks person's keystrokes and then sends the information to someone who can translate and exploit it. This can copy the keystrokes on e-mail, instant messenger, and any other Internet activity. The person collecting the information can get information such as credit card numbers, user names and passwords, and more. These handy little devices have been around for sometime but the increase of spyware has brought them out to the front and center. It is easy to infect a computer with this type of software and very common. A user can easily go to the wrong web site and get infected or someone can manually place this on the computer, as well.
  • Using privacy leaks in your system, frauds get such information about you as your name, your street address or your email, masquerade as a trustworthy person and send you an apparently official email trying to find out your credit card pin and number. Your IP address or "Internet Address" can be used to trace your location and personal information. With Arovax SmartHide whenever you visit websites, your real IP address is not provided to the other people involved in the transaction. Most hacking is based on using your real IP address, which the hacker won’t be able to get, without that they have no idea where to hack into.
Electronic mail (email) is also vulnerable. This is because, like the real post, it spends a lot of time being stored and awaiting delivery: for instance, if a telecommunications link fails, then email that would have used that link will stay, waiting, until the link is restored. It is in principle possible for someone to bribe a computer operator at one of the mail servers and thus somehow gain access to all undelivered mail. A sophisticated program might then be able to extract anything that looked like a credit card number.
Remember, the amount of risk in giving out a credit card number is limited by two important factors:
  1. Anyone taking card numbers from that Web site and trying to use them before they were cancelled, would have put him/herself in a very difficult position. To use a card number and expiration date, without a physical card, to purchase tangible goods by phone or over the Web, you need to give an address to which the merchandise will be delivered, which makes the transaction very traceable. Cash advances require PIN numbers which you never give to online retailers. So the thief would be limited to paying for on-line memberships or buying "soft goods," such as software, content, and music, that can be dowloaded directly from a Web site; and companies in that business tend to take extra precautions to prevent credit card fraud because of their unique vulnerability.
  2. The credit card company limits your liability. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly. There are new technologies, such as “substitute” credit card numbers and password programs, that can offer extra measures of protection from someone else using your credit card.
Your level of comfort in using your credit card on the World Wide Web is a personal matter.

How to decrease risks?
  • Know who you’re dealing with. If the seller or charity is unfamiliar, check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau. Some Web sites have feedback forums, which can provide useful information about other people’s experiences with particular sellers. Get the physical address and phone number in case there is a problem later.
  • Be aware that no complaints is no guarantee. Fraudulent operators open and close quickly, so the fact that no one has made a complaint yet doesn’t meant that the seller or charity is legitimate. You still need to look for other danger signs of fraud.
  • Don’t believe promises of easy money. If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam.
  • Understand the offer. A legitimate seller will give you all the details about the products or services, the total price, the delivery time, the refund and cancellation policies, and the terms of any warranty.
  • Resist pressure. Legitimate companies and charities will be happy to give you time to make a decision. It’s probably a scam if they demand that you act immediately or won’t take “No” for an answer.
  • Be cautious about unsolicited emails. They are often fraudulent. If you are familiar with the company or charity that sent you the email and you don’t want to receive further messages, send a reply asking to be removed from the email list. However, responding to unknown senders may simply verify that yours is a working email address and result in even more unwanted messages from strangers. The best approach may simply be to delete the email.
  • Beware of imposters. Someone might send you an email pretending to be connected with a business or charity, or create a Web site that looks just like that of a well-known company or charitable organization. If you’re not sure that you’re dealing with the real thing, find another way to contact the legitimate business or charity and ask.
  • Guard your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.
  • Beware of “dangerous downloads.” In downloading programs to see pictures, hear music, play games, etc., you could download a virus that wipes out your computer files or connects your modem to a foreign telephone number, resulting in expensive phone charges. Only download programs from Web sites you know and trust. Read all user agreements carefully.


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