These Are The Riskiest Places To Swipe Your Credit Card

©New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Living without debit and credit cards is difficult to conceive. These convenient pieces of plastic are used everywhere, and card readers are so commonplace that some people no longer even carry cash. Unfortunately, data breaches and identity theft have increased in frequency along with the use of credit and debit cards.

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Over 650,000 cases of identity theft are reported in America each year, according to Self Financial. Credit card fraud accounts for 41% of those thefts, which is when someone steals your card information and uses it to open accounts and make purchases in your name. You’ll see that using your Visa or Mastercard isn’t always the greatest choice if you take a look at this list of typical card hazards.

1. Concert Vendors

Risks Involved: Cards can be stolen or cloned at a concert
How to Avoid: Watch your cards after you buy from a vendor, pay in cash at the concert

While it probably comes as no surprise that using your credit or debit card to purchase from a scalper is dangerous, even reputable, certified concert sellers can have data breaches. Ticketmaster revealed in 2018 that it had fallen victim to a credit card skimmer scheme. This action affected 800 more e-commerce websites in addition to the vendor.

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Concert Vendors ©hanohiki/stock.adobe.com

Be cautious when purchasing goods, food, and beverages from attendees at the show in addition to the risks associated with purchasing tickets through providers like Ticketmaster. Wherever possible, pay with cash because it’s far too simple for these independent, unidentified sellers to connect a skimmer to a card reader. Your debit or credit card may “accidentally” disappear at a concert due to the chaotic, loud environment.

2. “Independent” ATMs

Risks Involved: ATMs themselves could be fake, easily tampered with, higher fees
How to Avoid: Use only bank ATMs for withdrawing cash

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Self-contained ATMs are typical. These ATMs, which are owned by a large bank, became widely used in the 1990s as a means of enabling customers to access cash even when they were not close to a bank. The theft of debit card information has “soared,” according to the Wall Street Journal, over the past 20 years.

"Independent" ATMs ©Hadrian/Shutterstock.com

The independent ATM owner may be a swindler looking to steal users’ personal information, which would make the ATM itself potentially fraudulent. Or, these ATMs may be rigged with a skimmer that enables thieves to duplicate your card and steal your personal data. According to The Baltimore Sun, these allegedly bogus “independent” ATMs expose their consumers to “fraud” and “increased fees.” Before using your Mastercard or Visa at one of these ATMs, give it some

3. Chain Retailers

Risks Involved: Even established chains are susceptible to experiencing theft
How to Avoid: Pay cash and don’t opt to let the retailer save your information if paying by card

While the majority of us are aware enough to avoid entering our credit card information on dubious websites and subpar businesses, this does not mean that chain stores, which are reputable establishments with billions of dollars in annual sales, are immune to hackers and breaches. With the advent of loyalty cards and internet shopping, almost all large chain businesses have had data breaches.

Chain Retailers ©Kaspars Grinvalds/stock.adobe.com

One of the worst data breaches in history occurred at Target in 2013. By injecting malware into Target’s computers using credentials they acquired from a third-party vendor, the hackers were able to access the credit card information of 40 million Target consumers. Target was required by a court order to provide the breached customers with a $18.5 million payment in 2021.

4. eBay

Risks Involved: Historic data breach (circa 2014)
How to Avoid: Be vigilant after using your card there, if unsure, avoid the site altogether

For businesses, data breaches are a public relations nightmare. Online shops frequently struggle to keep up with the cunning and committed hackers. When a breach occurs, the merchant receives negative headlines because they are held accountable for the data theft (and frequently sued). In some cases, this results in clients leaving the business.

eBay ©Daniel Krasoń/stock.adobe.com

This controversy affected eBay in 2014. Hackers invaded the online auction site, collecting 145 user passwords in a historically significant breach. This implied that the consumers’ financial and identification details may be accessed by the robbers. Everyone had to change their passwords, and eBay received harsh criticism for its early, tepid response from outlets like Wired.

5. Bars and Nightclubs

Risks Involved: ATM skimmers, stolen card information when it’s held for your tab
How to Avoid: Bring cash, use a credit card

In bars and clubs, many of us use our debit cards, especially if we don’t expect to rack up a sizable bill. However, there are a few risks to your money while using debit cards at these establishments, as reported by Credit.com. For instance, a dishonest bartender may readily record your details. After all, if you open a tab, they keep your card.

Bars and Nightclubs ©master1305/stock.adobe.com

Additionally, ATM skimmers, which are magnetic strip readers used by thieves to steal your card information, love to target bar ATMs. Additionally, there are exorbitant fees for cash withdrawals at these ATMs. Therefore, whenever you take out cash, you wind up spending more than you should and end up putting your credit card at risk.

6. Festivals

Risks Involved: Cards might be physically stolen or cloned by thieves taking advantage of the atmosphere
How to Avoid: Bring cash in a theft-proof bag or wallet

Particularly at music festivals, attendees are urged to go “cashless” by stocking up on e-wallets, credit cards, and debit cards before the event. According to a survey from 2019, 41% of festival goers used credit cards to pay for their expenses. Even the cost of food and beverages during festivals might be prohibitively expensive.

Festivals ©maxbelchenko/stock.adobe.com

You run the danger of having your card taken during these events, either physically or through “cloning,” according to Equifax. Festivals are a wonderful place for dishonest thieves to steal your card or pose as a vendor because attendees frequently get a touch tipsy. Bring cash in a wallet or purse that can withstand theft.

7. Verified Online Retailers

Risks Involved: Even verified online retailers can be hacked
How to Avoid: Shop in-person with cash

Verified online retailers are nonetheless susceptible to hacking, as we’ve previously mentioned. Numerous retailers’ websites have been compromised by hackers. Despite being authentic and meeting all requirements (unlike copycats), the vendor isn’t always safe from Internet-savvy hackers.

Verified Online Retailers ©michelangeloop/stock.adobe.com

Hackers break into computer systems in an effort to steal important data. Now, not everyone whose card is taken will experience financial loss. But you must deactivate the card right away if you experience a data breach. A person using your name to open accounts or make transactions is an indication of identity theft, so keep a close eye out for any such activity. Unfortunately, shopping in-person is the only surefire way to evade hacking.

8. Fair Vendors

Risks Involved: You don’t know who’s behind the reader, a seller could easily steal your information
How to Avoid: Pay in cash, look up online reviews of sellers and vendors before purchasing

In order to accept credit or debit cards, many fair sellers, whether the fair is a carnival or an art exhibition, have their own card readers. Even though it’s practical, the customer’s safety isn’t always guaranteed. You don’t know who is hiding behind the reader, which is the key reason. Although most merchants are probably trustworthy, some might not be.

Fair Vendors ©paulvelgos/stock.adobe.com

You’re dealing with a small business owner who may have installed a skimmer or other malicious device on the card reader to steal your credit card information. Go to your neighborhood PNC or another bank to withdraw money to support fair merchants in a secure manner. That is your best bet for a secure transaction, especially if it is kept in a wallet or bag that is theft-proof.

9. Adobe.com

Risks Involved: Prior data breach, chance you’ll be charged
How to Avoid: Remove card information before due date

Software tycoon Adobe Systems experienced a small scandal back in 2013. Well, more than a little bit, considering that hackers took the data of close to three million of its clients. The hackers’ primary aim was credit card details, and the fall hack spooked Adobe users.

Adobe.com ©Ricky Of The World/Shutterstock.com

Although the data leak was concerning, there are other ways to lose money from Adobe besides scammers. If you forget to terminate your trial, Adobe Systems will charge your card, just like many other subscription-based services. Watch the clock and delete the card details before the payment is due.

10. Fast Food Chains

Risks Involved: Data breaches can happen and have happened, card info/restaurant info can be stolen
How to Avoid: Pay with cash or a gift card if possible

Regardless of how big or tiny the fast food chain is, data breaches can occur there too. Similar to convenience stores, customers frequently prefer to use their credit or debit cards to pay at fast food restaurants. After all, not everyone regularly uses petty cash to make payments.

Fast Food Chains ©rzoze19/stock.adobe.com

Cash payments are preferable since even large chains like McDonald’s are susceptible to fraud. McDonald’s experienced a significant data breach in 2021 that resulted in the theft of restaurant information in the US, Taiwan, and South Korea. You should still try to pay with cash at fast food outlets whenever you can, even though consumer and employee data was not accessible.

11. Bank ATMs That Look “Off”

Risks Involved: Fake ATMs can be used to take your card information and give you no money (or counterfeit cash)
How to Avoid: Look for red flags like a fake front, card slot issues, loitering strangers, and cameras

If you need money right away, ATMs are frequently a need, but that doesn’t mean they’re all secure. Although we have a tendency to trust bank ATMs, you should nonetheless be on the lookout for any suspicious aspects. Scammers have developed numerous methods for breaking into ATMs, including pinhole cameras that capture footage of users entering their PIN codes.

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Love Money published images taken by City of London police that served as a warning against ATM fraud, even from machines bearing bank logos. Avoid using an ATM if it has a phony front, a bigger card slot, a loose or obstructed card slot, or even if there are loitering individuals nearby.

12. Facebook

Risks Involved: There have been several major data breaches at Facebook, one of which the company downplayed
How to Avoid: Do not use your card to make in-app purchases

Numerous data breaches have occurred at Facebook, and the most of them have garnered significant international attention before being quickly forgotten. Although Facebook allows in-app purchases, we advise against doing so in light of the company’s track record.

Facebook ©Jirapong Manustrong/Shutterstock.com

A few years ago, a low-level hacking site published the stolen information of nearly 500 million Facebook members from 106 nations. Full names, contact information, addresses, and more were made public. Facebook allegedly “downplay[ed]” the data leak in internal memos while denying “wrongdoing,” according to the BBC. It is not a good idea to use your card on the social networking site due to its susceptibility to attacks and response to security breaches.

13. Gyms

Risks Involved: Lockers get broken into all the time, gym companies are susceptible to data breaches and skimmers
How to Avoid: Lock your locker, pay close attention to your accounts

This risk involves both physical and digital risks. Physically, gym lockers are frequently broken into across the nation. Without security cameras in the gym locker room, it’s all too simple for a thief to raid your wallet, take your card, and flee if you don’t lock your locker.

Gyms ©Gutesa/Shutterstock.com

Just like any other firm, gyms are prone to dishonest personnel and data breaches online. For instance, a data breach affected Mindbody’s client details in 2018. Two years later, a breach at the New York fitness company Town Sports resulted in the exposure of the personal data of over 600,000 customers.

14. Car Rental Counters

Risks Involved: Card readers can have skimmers, rental company might be a scam
How to Avoid: Keep an eye on your accounts, verify the rental company that you’re using

Even online payments may not always be secure because card readers at vehicle rental counters are sometimes vulnerable to skimmers. The Federal Trade Commission claims that there are numerous rental car company “scams” out there. One frequent scam involves a con artist posing as a car rental company and setting up their own company and website to give the impression that they are a real renter.

Car Rental Counters ©hanohiki/Shutterstock.com

Most of the time, they want a down payment or upfront payment for the vehicle. After that, the con artists steal your money and credit card information and flee, leaving you without a car and exposed to identity theft. Make sure to investigate the car manufacturer and confirm any deals with it immediately. To find out if other people have used this service and found it to be reliable, read online reviews.

15. Carnivals

Risks Involved: Card could get skimmed, pickpockets abound at carnivals
How to Avoid: Carry cash in a theft-proof bag or wallet, don’t bring your credit or debit card with you

Carnivals have an energetic, raucous throng. They are fun, but you should remain alert at all times. Not only should you always use cash to pay at these events to prevent the traditional skimmer fraud, but you should also exercise caution if you have a credit card on you.

Carnivals ©Real Window Creative/Shutterstock.com

Pickpockets frequently prey on people during carnivals and similar events. Since you typically have your hands full with food, drinks, or rewards, your wallet is an ideal target for theft. Petty cash should be kept in a belt wallet or bag that is theft-proof. Although more expensive, these theft-proof bags will keep your belongings secure and are a wise investment.