credit card theft is a terrible experience
Protecting Against Credit Card Theft Begins with Limiting Available Information.
Short of physical violence involved with a mugging or armed robbery, credit card theft is often the worst kind of robbery that can occur. Putting collateral damage aside, things like violence or being destitute while traveling. When someone gets robbed or pick-pocketed, they have two advantages over the thieves. The first being that they have an opportunity to cancel any cards before, or within a reasonable amount of time of the theft.
The second being that cards aside, the thief only has access to the amount of cash in someone’s wallet. When Credit Card information is stolen, the user often doesn’t realize it until the damage has already been done. Additionally, having available funds stolen is the best case scenario. Hopefully, the thief doesn’t start opening more credit cards or reselling information.
how credit card theft can happen
In 2016 alone, $16 Billion was lost to personal identity & credit card theft. Specific credit card information can be stolen multiple ways, it only takes one of many simple mistakes. These simple mistakes could be made by the credit card holder, an online merchant or just be a malicious acts such as these:
- Stolen Wallet, Purse or Documents
- Fake Card Skimmers, ATMs or Gas Pumps
- Plain Text Storage of Financials
- Sharing Compromised Account Information
- Personal Theft by Untrustworthy People
- Disgruntled Employees or Relatives
- Internet E-Commerce or Phone Call Scams
gift cards prevent credit card theft
Limiting the amount of information available to malicious agents & thieves is very simple: gift cards. The original idea of a gift card was exactly that, a gift. Gift cards have since evolved into being much more; acting as a refillable currency often with limited acceptance. Consider every dollar on a Starbucks gift card as a different currency, like the Peso. So instead of crossing a border to spend a Peso, people enter a Starbucks to spend… $tar-Bucks.
A stable, zero exchange rate currency with very limited market mobility & purchase power. This process of brand specific, refillable, multi-media (app) gift cards is perfect for peace of mind during habitual purchases. When using a gift card, a user knows that their credit card information is never at risk. The one downside to this solution is that constantly buying or refilling multiple brand specific gift cards can be a hassle!
pre-paid or refillable debit/credit cards
For the secure shopper on the go, stacks of brand specific gift cards sounds even worse than 15 purchases in one day all over town. A morning of breakfast, coffee, gasoline, multiple shops at the mall & an afternoon of online shopping – all on the same personal debit card. This type of behavior makes up a majority of users & thieves count on it. Enter the pre-paid visa debit/credit card. These pre-paid cards are available in pre-determined dollar amounts like $25, $50 & $100. These cards also come in user defined dollar amounts up to $500. This means that even with $1,500 in purchases to make in a day, three pre-paid gift/debit/credit cards can be purchased to cover all expenses under $500 individually. Converting cash or a small amount of money from a large checking account into pre-paid cards provides amazing protection. It limits the amount of information available to malicious agents, as well as the level of reward should information be compromised.
pre-paid credit card use & limitations
Every major online retailer has their own gift cards available at just about any Gift Card Mall. From the website users can compare, contrast & select the right option to meet specific needs. The most secure way to purchase one of these cards is cold hard cash from just about any supermarket or grocery store. There is often a small exchange rate of $3-5 so the merchant can make their money from the purchase as well. These pre-paid gift/debit/credit cards are a great solution, but never perfect. Users should be sure to read all fine print before making a purchase & know that not all store chains carry the same brands of cards. Often, refillable or high limit cards will require users to register the cards for financial records. This completely negates the limitation of information, but does limit access to available funds. Other cards may have limitations on single purchase amounts, often capping purchases at $75 or preventing “credit” purchases without registering the card online.