The classic “Nigerian prince” email scam seems to be in the rear-view window for America, but one major shift in the credit card industry is leaving many people vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.
According to local news affiliate WMDT 47, the Federal Trade Commission is urging credit card users to keep personal information secure as scammers are taking advantage of the national switch to microchip-based cards.
Banks across the country are sending out new credit cards that contain a microchip, as per new federal regulations. The problem is many credit card users haven’t gotten their new card yet, which leaves them open for attack.
Scammers will seek out those who have not yet received their new card and send them an e-mail posing as their bank. They tell users to “update their personal account” by replying with their card number, security code, and other sensitive information.
The FTC posted a series of blogs on their website warning people to ignore these e-mails and report them as spam to avoid the consequences of identity theft.
“There’s no reason your card issuer needs to contact you by email–or by phone, for that matter–to confirm personal information before sending you a new chip card,” the FTC said in a blog post.
The average household credit card debt is almost $7,200 and identity theft is a primary culprit for these staggering numbers. Fraud happens just about every second somewhere in America, and Maryland is no exception to the rule.
According to Patch.com, the Anne Arundel County Police Department is currently asking locals to help them identify a woman caught on surveillance cameras attempting to use a stolen credit card — in broad daylight at a public store.
While it’s difficult to control accidentally losing a credit card, the FTC goes on to say that card owners are in complete control of their personal information and should never release it under questionable circumstances.
“Don’t trust links in emails. Only provide personal information through a company’s website if you typed in the web address yourself and you see signals that the site is secure,” the FTC warned.
The FTC and industry experts hope that the introduction of microchips will deter the majority of credit card fraud. Each chip has a unique code that authenticates individual transactions, making it nearly impossible to replicate.