Today is Black Friday, which traditionally is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. This fact is not lost on scammers who will be as pervasive as ever. Over the next few weeks, I will be focusing the Scams of the day on the many holiday season scams about which we should all be aware. If you are shopping in a brick and mortar store today or any day throughout the year, you should use a credit card rather than a debit card because of the possibility of skimmers being used by criminals working as sales clerks who will take your credit card or debit card and swipe it through the skimmer, capturing your credit card number to use for themselves. Whenever possible you should use your chip credit card because it is not susceptible to skimmers, however, some retailers still have not switched to chip technology. As for using your credit card rather than your debit card, it is important to remember that while your liability for fraudulent use of your credit card is limited by federal law to no more than $50, your liability for fraudulent use of your debit card which is tied to a bank account is unlimited if you do not promptly discover and report the fraud.
I will be discussing safe practices for online shopping in a future Scam of the day, but a new development this year warrants mention. A criminal group known as Magecart has managed to infect the websites of numerous retailers in a manner that they are able to capture your credit card or debit card information when you enter it into the website.
For the reasons discussed above, try to use your credit card as a chip card whenever possible and always watch your credit card when it is being processed at a brick and mortar store. Don’t let it out of your sight because that is when you run the risk of a rogue clerk running it through a skimmer. Refrain from using your debit card except as an ATM card. Finally, in regard to the Magecart threat, you should regularly monitor your credit card statement online rather than waiting for a monthly paper bill to be delivered to you so that if your credit card was compromised and your data stolen, you will be able to discover and report the problem to your credit card issuer quickly and avoid more problems.
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