How Spyware and Malware Are Used in Online Credit Card Fraud

High-profile hacks of enterprise-level companies have, in recent years, thrust the risks of identity theft into the public consciousness. But did you know that half of all credit card fraud is conducted online using spyware? Internet credit card fraud schemes are highly profitable for spyware villains, who steal billions of dollars every year from unsuspecting computer users and corporations.

How Spyware Is Used to Commit Credit Card Fraud

Spyware collects your personal data

Once you encounter spyware and other forms of malware while doing your usual activities online, spyware silently begins collecting your information and wreaks havoc on your computer. Without your knowledge, spyware runs in the background recording your Internet browsing habits and keystrokes, monitoring the programs you use and collecting your personal information. This can lead to serious consequences such as credit card fraud and identity theft.

Spyware villains make money off your information.

Once spyware has sent your personal and financial data to spies, the criminals either sell your information to other criminals or fraudsters impersonate you using stolen information. Sometimes they will attempt to add themselves or an alias that they control as an authorized user to your account so it’s easier for them to use your credit.

Usually, the villains will:

  • Request new account PINs or additional cards

  • Make purchases

  • Obtain cash advances

You pay for the damage spyware has caused.

The extent of the damage of online identity theft varies by case. But, if there's one thing victims can be sure of, it's that their time, money, and peace of mind will all take a hit. 

Most credit card fraud victims don’t realize what has happened until it’s too late. Costs that a victim may incur include:

  • Restoring their credit records

  • Increased interest and insurance rates due to corrupted credit, health or driving records

  • Fixing a malfunctioning, spyware-infected computer

  • Lost productivity

How to prevent online credit card fraud

Internet credit card fraud and identity theft can be devastating. Proactively preventing spyware damage is vastly less expensive than paying to restore your credit, your identity, and your computer. If you want to know how to prevent credit card fraud, here are a few things you can do right away:

  • Use varied and complex passwords for all your accounts

  • Continually check the accuracy of personal accounts and resolve discrepancies immediately

  • Only provide personal information on sites that have "https" in the web address or have a lock icon at bottom of the browser

  • Do not provide personal information to any unsolicited requests for information, which are often a sign of phishing

  • Avoid questionable websites

  • Practice safe email protocol:

    • Don't open messages from unknown senders

    • Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam

  • Only download software from sites you trust. Carefully evaluate free software and file-sharing applications before downloading them.

To avoid credit card fraud, make sure that you have the best security software products installed on your PC:

The best internet credit card fraud protection begins by avoiding spyware infection in the first place. Products like Webroot® Internet Security Complete® guard against spyware entering your computer and prevent it from slowing your PC through damage to your files and programs. A good anti-malware program searches every place on your computer where spyware can hide and removes every trace to boost your PC performance. While free anti-spyware downloads are available, they just can’t keep up with the continuous onslaught of new spyware strains. Previously undetected forms of spyware can often do the most damage to your PC, so it’s critical to have up-to-the-minute, guaranteed protection.

Find the right cybersecurity solution for you.