Credit card fraud in the USA is predicted to grow by more than 125% in the next couple of years. Analysts estimate that there will be over $19 billion of lost revenues by 2018. This is from $8 billion losses that were reported in 2014. This growth is mainly attributed to the perpetually evolving online scams and Web schemes that criminal syndicates use to victimize users today.

Once you learn more about the most widespread online scams in the USA this year, you’ll be able to spot and avoid becoming a victim of credit card fraud. So, here they are:

What to Watch Out for & How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud

  1. Fake Websites – Scammers now use clones of legitimate online banking portals, Web mail platforms and online shopping networks to perpetuate credit card fraud. These fake sites are mainly used for the phishing scams of these criminal syndicates.

There are many reports of fake websites this year. Many of these were in the 800++ monthly online scam cases that were filed by American users in the first half of this year. A lot of these users reported being victimized by credit card fraud after falling for these phishing scams.

Victims said they received deceptive messages that tricked them into thinking they needed to log into their accounts and update their profile details. After clicking the links in these messages, they were sent to fake websites that harvested their account credentials when they entered them.

These messages are usually sent via email, SMS and as private messages in popular social networks like Facebook. Some users reported that they received these deceptive messages and links in widely used instant messaging applications like Skype. A few weeks after entering their account credentials and credit card information into these fake websites, they noticed fraudulent transactions in their credit card and bank account statements.

What you should do to avoid falling for these phishing scams is to carefully check the legitimacy of any link that you want to click. You can do this by reviewing the URLs of these links. Also take note that most of these fake websites are under domains that look very similar to the legitimate domains of popular banks, Web mail platforms and online shopping networks.

So, never click links in suspicious sites. Don’t open messages from untrusted sources. Also watch out for suspicious messages from your contacts. Many scammers use hacked accounts to send out phishing messages and links. A lot of users in the USA fall for credit card fraud because of these tactics.

  1. Online Extortion Scams – These schemes have many variants. Many American users have been victimized by credit card fraud because of these online extortion scams. The most prevalent this year are romance scams and fake tech support operations.

Romance scams target married American men and women in the USA who regularly use popular online dating sites and apps. Sometimes, these scams are directly done in widely used social networks like Facebook. This is where users are blackmailed into sending money after they engage in intimate conversations with criminals who pose as legitimate users of these online dating platforms. Aside from stealing their money, these scammers also steal their financial information to commit more serious credit card fraud.

Fake tech support scams target mostly senior and non-tech savvy American users. Most scammers buy telemarketing data of seniors who are living alone. They call these unsuspecting victims and scare them into paying a hefty fee for fake tech support services and rogue system security products. They also steal the financial details of their victims, in an effort to use these for more serious credit card fraud.

These criminals tell them that their devices have been compromised by malicious applications. They say that these undesirable programs can render their devices useless and corrupt their confidential data and important files. They pose as official tech support agents of popular companies like Microsoft, Apple, Norton and so on.

Some criminal syndicates distribute tampered applications and compromised content downloads all over the Internet. These are mostly done through torrent sites and other P2P (peer to peer) file sharing networks. They also operate illegitimate sites with scripts for hijacking and freezing Web browsers.

These are designed to install adware programs in the target user’s Windows PCs, Mac OSX laptops, Android and iOS mobile devices. These adware programs display deceptive messages that trick users into calling a toll free number and into paying a considerable amount of money to fix their frozen devices. When they pay for this removal service, many users fall for more serious credit card fraud.

What you need to do to avoid these scams is to hang up on these criminals, or to ignore these deceptive messages. Just call the official tech support agents of your operating system developer or device manufacturer. They can assist you in quickly and safely removing these threats from your devices. This will help you avoid more serious credit card fraud.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be safer on the Web. Also share this with your family and friends, so they can also avoid these prevalent scams on the Internet this year. Let’s all do our part in fighting credit card fraud and other Web crimes in the USA.

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