Credit Card Fraud – Tips on Behavior in an Emergency

Credit cards are popular with us. In Germany, around 34 million cards are in circulation. Thus mathematically more than every second adult German citizen owns a credit card. Whether traveling, shopping, services or as a payment method in e-commerce such as Internet shopping – the cards make simple and convenient payments possible. Thanks to the monthly billing, a debit on the checking account does not take place immediately, but only with a time delay. This free loan is a great benefit for many.


Unfortunately, the use of cards also has dark sides. One of them is the risk of credit card fraud – a crime that can lead to up to ten years in jail in severe cases. After all, there is a positive message: Credit card fraud does not happen too often. In 2016, there were nearly 2,000 victims of credit card misuse in Germany. By comparison, there were twice as many incidents in 2010. In fact, cardholders are not helpless at the mercy of fraud. With the right knowledge and some attention can be effectively prevented. That’s why it should go in the following guide.

Forms of credit card fraud

Forms of credit card fraud

How does the credit card fraud work?

The means of credit card fraud are as varied as the potential uses of the cards themselves. Fraudsters are always concerned with gaining possession of the card data. These are to be used for the financial damage of the cardholders or of dealers. This is done via card duplicates – ie counterfeit credit cards – or partially via the use of the original cards. For internet transactions, the data of the credit card owner suffice. Here are the typical tricks for data theft at a glance.

  • Pishing emails or SMS : Fake emails or text messages are sent during data fishing. You ask the recipient to specify or repeat the map data . As alleged senders, the fraudsters use the names of card-issuing banks or online retailers.
  • Fake Internet sites : Some fraudsters operate with deceptively genuine imitations of Internet sites. A popular destination are online stores. That it is an imitation and not the original is recognizable only at second glance. Users who get lost on such sites are not likely to notice this. In some cases, completely new internet sites are being developed with fictional online shops . They seem to praise particularly attractive goods, although the sale is not intended. The goal of the lock offers is to learn card data when logging in or placing orders.
  • Attacks on databases : Hackers gain direct access to databases and other computers. For this one uses data leaks or security gaps in the computer systems . The targets of such attacks are banks, payment services or online retailers with large amounts of customer data. The databases usually contain data from credit cards.
  • Email with Malware: Scammers send fraudulent emails with data attachments. In these there is a special malware. Banks or dealers act as presumed senders. When you open the attachments , the malicious software installs unnoticed on the computer. It captures data entries of the user in the background and then forwards them.
  • Manipulation of readers : The skimming of card data takes place at ATMs or at readers. The latter are typically used in retail. Dummies of keypads, inconspicuous additional readers and tiny cameras pick up the input data in card transactions . Cameras are used to capture PIN entries. As a rule, the additional devices are hardly recognizable.
  • Card theft : Comparatively primitive is the classic credit card fraud with stolen or lost credit cards. This is also a popular variant in the digital age. Here, the criminal energy focuses on getting possession of the original map . This will then be misused.

The technical development should continue to offer opportunities for further fraud attempts.

Anyone who has been the victim of a credit card fraud should follow the tips for taking action.

How can consumers protect themselves from credit card fraud?

The following measures can provide protection against financial damage.

  • Keep Cards Safe : This is one of the basics in the fight against credit card fraud. An absolute taboo is to keep the card and PIN together. When entering data, it must always be ensured that no unauthorized third party can follow the entry.
  • Check card billing : The regular control of card billing is a basic requirement to avoid credit card fraud. Only those who recognize illegal charges early enough will be able to take action against them. Often fraudsters deliberately book surtax amounts. The fraudulent debits are often in the great mass of bookings.
  • Take special care when using the Internet : Most fraud methods work electronically today. The Internet plays a key role in this. If requests to specify card data occur, users should take a particularly critical look. Indications for dubious pages are a missing https: // in the address or an address designation in which the supposed provider no longer appears. Even with suspiciously cheap offers, customers should be warned. In principle, more data than necessary should never be made available.
  • Check emails critically : For reasons of virus protection, recipients should never open attachments to suspicious emails – especially if the sender is unknown . In this case, the e-mail should be deleted immediately. For mails from supposedly known senders are an impersonal speech or spelling and grammatical errors suspicion.
  • Immediately initiate card blocking : In case of card loss, card theft or suspicion of unauthorized data access, only the immediate card lock will help. For this the free emergency call 116-116 is available. In the case of blocking from abroad, the prefix 0049 must be prefixed. The number 116-116 is available around the clock, 365 days a year. The card providers and the card issuing agencies also have their own blocking numbers.
  • Immediate Complaints to the Bank : Invalid bookings on the credit card bill should prompt cardholders to complain to the bank immediately. The complaint must be submitted by phone and in writing. Complained bookings can be reversed. The booking will be canceled. The general terms and conditions of the institutes usually provide for complaint periods of six to eight weeks .



Who is liable in case of damage and what are the consequences?

Credit card holders are well protected against financial damages by credit card fraud. Your liability is normally limited to a maximum of 150 euros . This is regulated in the Civil Code (§ 675v BGB). The liability risk primarily affects the card issuer. As a rule, the bank is liable, not the customer. This only applies if the cardholder behaves properly. If this is not the case, the limitation of liability no longer applies. In the worst case, the cardholder can be fully liable.

Improper conduct means either intent or gross negligence. The fact that the cardholder himself makes the scam, comes to the fore. Deliberate action can be assumed if unjustified economic benefits are gained by the card. More difficult is the question of when gross negligence is to be assumed. Negligence occurs in the case of avoidable breaches of duty in connection with the possession of the card. The difference between gross negligence and negligence is a matter of interpretation. From the point of view of the card issuer, the answer is stricter, from the point of view of the cardholder more generous.

To ensure unambiguousness, many terms and conditions define cases of gross negligence. Although there are nuances, but overall shows a similar picture.

To be regarded as grossly negligent, though

  • Credit card and PIN are stored together in the same place (bag, wallet) or the PIN is noted on the card
  • Secret numbers are carelessly communicated to other people and the card abuse is possible
  • Storage items for cards are left unattended. This can be a wallet in the parked car or a parked bag in the train compartment with access for third parties
  • After ticket loss, theft or misuse, the card is not blocked immediately. What immediately means is interpretable. Anyone waiting with the lock for days or weeks does not act immediately.



Who is in credit card fraud in the proof?

Basically, the card issuing body is in the case of intent as well as gross negligence in the proof obligation in order to take the cardholder more liable. Legal disputes are often inevitable. In this case, it is necessary to consult a credit card fraud lawyer. Once the card is blocked, the cardholder is released from liability for further card misuse. Should abusive orders nevertheless be allowed, the bank is obliged to do so.



What are the charges for credit card fraud?

If the credit card has been lost or stolen, cardholders will need a replacement card . In the past, extra charges were often required for such replacement cards. The Federal Court of Justice declared this practice ineffective in 2015 (BGH judgment of 20 October 2015, ref .: XI ZR 166/14). The highest civil court held that replacement cards in the event of loss or theft are a normal duty of a bank. Special fees may not be required. This also applies to the card blocking. Overpaid fees can be reclaimed later. For this one should rely on the judgment of the Federal Court and reclaim the money . Subsequent recoveries are subject to a three-year period, as the right to a refund automatically expires after three years.



What measures can be taken to prevent credit card fraud?

The card companies and banks are now making technical arrangements to minimize the risk of credit card fraud.

Credit Cards with Chip and PIN: Especially newer cards are equipped with chips in addition to magnetic stripes. Behind this is a technical standard developed by the three major card companies Europay, Mastercard and VISA. Chips are much more forgery-proof than the usual magnetic stripes. Making card duplicates is nearly impossible. The combination of chip and PIN entry makes the unauthorized reading of map data difficult. With cash withdrawals at the ATM and retail purchases, this is a good protection.

3D Secure procedure: For online purchases, the so-called 3D Secure method is available. For VISA, this is under the “Verified by VISA” brand, for Mastercard under the title “Mastercard SecureCode”. Regardless of the different names, both methods are largely identical. The 3D Secure process works as follows: The cardholder gives his card data as usual while shopping. A connection to the card issuing bank will then be established. The buyer must then confirm his identity with a personal code . If necessary, a security question must also be answered. The procedure is similar to an electronic signature. Only when the information is correct, the transaction is possible. This ensures that only the cardholder initiates the online purchase.

Note Use of the 3D Secure procedure is voluntary. If you want to play it safe while using the card on the Internet, you should make use of it.

Pishing Insurance : Despite all the ingenious safeguards – Experience shows that fraudsters are inventive. Although the financial risk of credit card fraud is usually manageable, some cardholders would like more protection. The question is whether there is insurance against credit card fraud. In the meantime, some insurers have extended their household protection by a so-called “phishing insurance” . This covers damage caused by spying and misuse of account data – even through card usage. However, it depends on the conditions, if and to what extent the protection takes effect. Damage caused by visiting “fake websites” is occasionally covered.


The insurance benefit is limited to small amounts. These are around 1000 euros. In addition, gross negligence is an exclusion criterion. This can lead to disputes. Whether a phishing insurance makes sense, is a cost-benefit balance. Safe personal behavior is likely to be better protection against credit card fraud in many cases.

Finance the damage of credit card fraud

Finance the damage of credit card fraud

How can I settle the damage caused by a credit card fraud?

If the consumer has been the victim of a credit card fraud and can not pay the damage immediately, there is a possibility of a loan. The Small Lender calculator helps to plan and estimate the funds needed.