The magnetic stripe on your credit card is attached to information that identifies you and your account. When you swipe your card through a payment terminal, it extracts information from your card and approves or rejects transactions based on available credit or funds. The money is then transferred from your account to the merchants.
Unfortunately, a crook can use this information to steal money from your account or charge things. A card skimmer is a device that has been around for a very long time. These devices are installed on payment terminals to collect and steal your credit card information. They are often difficult to identify, but we have some tips that can help keep you from getting ripped off. Tap or click here for our report on skimmers.
A thief does not need your credit card to be physically present. Bullying actors can target you online without your knowledge. Sometimes you won’t even know about it until you receive your credit card statement, and even then, fraudulent charges may be lost among legitimate ones. Read on for tips on avoiding surprise charges.
dark pattern, gray area
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) cited a 2019 study that found dark patterns in 11% of 11,000 shopping websites. Dark pattern is a term that describes online tricks designed to take money out of your credit card. “This is a conservative estimate,” said lead author Arunesh Mathur.
Websites, online retailers, subscription services, social media influencers, political fundraisers and others use black patterns to extort money from their users and customers.
Related: Captcha tests are designed to authenticate human users, but scammers use this technique to target their victims. Tap or click here for tips on how to avoid this trick.
A site may add an item to your online shopping cart without your consent. You may miss a small checkbox that will be added to your fee when you pay for a service. A button to opt out of certain charges may be obscured by color, size, or placement.
The problem is that these unethical practices are not always illegal. In many cases, the trick is performed in plain view, which is enough to please the law. The text can be hard to read or interpret, but it’s there, and that’s what matters.
how to spot dark patterns
Difficult language that is difficult to understand at first. If you can’t figure it out, it’s hiding something and you should move on.
Language that tries to make you feel bad for not accepting the terms. An example you’ll see many times is “No thanks, I’ll pay full price instead.” Ignore that crap and go on with what you originally wanted.
Are you trying to find the X button to close a pop-up? Is it so small that you can barely see it on your smartphone? It’s a shoddy trick to click on the window instead of closing it.
You can use the green signal for out and the red indicator for stop. Dark Pattern practitioners use this to their advantage by swapping out these colors. So an “Accept” button could be red or an “Reject” button could be green. Tap or click here for eight big scams to keep track of.
The countdown timer doesn’t need to be there to be honest. They are there to lead you to a decision. Mathur’s study found that the 40% discount countdown timers didn’t actually end as indicated.
Think about throwing a bag of candy in your shopping cart when you’re not looking. The same type of maneuver can be done online. A site or service may add goods to your cart without warning. Before checking out, check your cart for extras.
A social media platform or influencer may ask for your personal information, such as your phone number and email address, to join, subscribe, enter contests or earn discounts. Don’t give so much information. They will use it to spam you with ads or sell your information to third parties. Tap or click here to read about sweepstakes scams targeting your bank account.
When signing up for a free trial, keep track of how long it lasts. Often you won’t be warned when a trial is ending and when they start charging you.
When using an app that requests a lot of personal information, such as mental health support, be careful what you hand over. This information may be shared with other companies or users.