Credit Card Safety In The 21st Century

Credit cards are one of the biggest success stories of economic history. Today, they are no longer considered elitist and unaffordable and have instead turned into a almost universally accepted mainstream payment tool. Although laudable in theory, their popularity has obviously created a plethora of practical problems. The disquieting rise in household debt over the past few years is one of them. Safety issues are another: Each year, thousands of credit cards are hacked, illegally duplicated, stolen or lost, leading to millions of pounds in financial damages. Needless to say, this has created considerable concern among consumers about whether or not credit cards are actually safe enough and fit for the 21st century. Many reports have delved into the question – but their findings are anything but clear.

How do credit cards get hacked

The main reason why credit card fraud has become rampant is that criminal technology has become both more professional and affordable. Personal information on a credit card can be read by means of a skimming device or tiny, all but invisible spycameras placed at a safe distance from potential fraud victims. Afterwards, duplicate credit cards can easily and cheaply be created with a card pressing device and then sold on the black market. This way, someone may be buying articles using your name and your account at some remote location without you even knowing about it.

What happens if a card gets duplicated or stolen or lost

For many years, the implications of credit card fraud were anything but clear. Even if holders would report their card as missing straight away, they still had to worry about being made responsible for the ensuing problems. Several legal provisions have changed this situation and today, financial institutions have been made to carry most of the burden of credit card fraud. Still, some serious concerns remain. One of them is the fact that if someone’s making exuberant purchases through a counterfeit credit card connected to your name, your credit rating may suffer regardless of whether it’s your fault or not. Getting it back in order again can be a time-consuming and painful process – and it’s not guaranteed to work either.

The pinnacle of safety: Prepaid cards

Of course, the easiest solution to credit card fraud is to abandon credit cards in the first place. As healthy as this might seem at first, it is actually easier said than done. Credit cards have become indispensable for buying products and services online and can therefore save you a lot of money. By providing you with a payment tool at millions of global sales points, they have also made shopping a lot more convenient. But how to combine the ease of use and shopping facilities of a credit card with a maximum of safety?

The prepaid card may well be the solution for you. On the one hand, it works just like a credit card. On the other, it will only allow you to spend what’s on it, thereby considerably limiting your potential loss in case of credit card fraud. Since you’re not actually taking out a credit in the true meaning of the word, your credit rating will never be affected – nor will you get caught up in the typical cycle of high interest payments and, ultimately, debt.

In a way, the prepaid card is part of the natural evolution of the credit card from an unsafe elitist payment tool into a safe, mainstream one. Admittedly, in a century as dominated by smart technology as this one, anything else would simply look outdated.

This information was compiled by G. Whittaker in association with Gavin Whittaker is a finance and business journalist from London, UK.