Introduction: Human Pests
This will be short. I've had my credit card stolen recently by someone, pretending to be me.
After gaining the number, they bought lots of stuff then called the bank saying the card had been stolen.
The bank reset the account, sent (me) a new card with a different number to the address they gave and were about to take a second swing at the cat. Fortunately, I tried to use it and discovered their ploy before the card reached them.
That's when I realized credit and debit card security measures aren't really that sophisticated... Or secure.
Step 1: Firewalls
Thanks to the Internet, social networking and people making a business of collecting information, virtually all information about you, me or anybody can be had for free, or for a very small fee.
Banks have made a feeble attempt of limiting access to your account by having you answer specific questions about things only you should know the answers to: Your mother's maiden name, your first school, or your pet's name.
On the surface, this sounds like a reliable means to insure you're the only one who can access your account.
Remember the statement I made in the last step? "...virtually all information about you, me or anybody can be had for free or a very small fee."
If you know where to look for it, that includes your mother's maiden name, your first school, your pet's name and even the name of your kindergarten teacher.
With this in mind, it's clear the bank's firewall concept isn't the best idea after all, and I have first hand proof it isn't working.
Now it's not up to me to change the tools banks use to do business. But I certainly can modify the way I use them.
I've perfected their imperfect firewall and this is how I did it:
Step 2: You Can Do It Too
Log into your credit card account and click on "Change Personal Info". When the personal question comes up, answer it. It really doesn't matter what the question is, because your answer won't be the same one bad guys who've done their research will come up with.
Simply answer the question wrong.
If your mother's maiden name was "Jones" put down "Smith" or "ReallyBigShoe" or any other nonsense word or number that only you can possibly know.
If you're afraid you might forget, keep your answer somewhat related but make sure it's the wrong answer... Your first pet's name might become "dog food" or "123Fido". If your mother's maiden name was Smith, maybe "lock" might do.
And most importantly, don't tell anyone what it is. Don't write it down, post it on Facebook or casually mention it... Ever.
And if you do. Get back on and change it.
I'm virtually the only person on earth who knows my answers...
And I'm letting you in on my little secret...
Consider it my gift to the world.