How risky is it to give card details over the phone and how do I reduce the chance of fraud? (2024)

Paying for things digitally is so common, most of us think nothing of swiping or tapping our card, or using mobile payments. While doing so is second nature, we may be more reluctant to provide card details over the phone.

Merchants are allowed to ask us for credit card details over the phone – this is perfectly legal. But there are minimum standards they must comply with and safeguards to protect consumer data.

So is giving your card details over the phone any more risky than other transactions and how can you minimise the risks?

How is my card data protected?

For a merchant to process card transactions, they are expected to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This is a set of security requirements designed to protect cardholder data and the trillions of dollars of transactions each year.

Compliance involves various security measures (such as encryption and access controls) together with strong governance and regular security assessments.

If the information stored by the merchant is accessed by an unauthorised party, encryption ensures it is not readable. That means stealing the data would not let the criminals use the card details. Meanwhile, access controls ensure only authorised individuals have access to cardholder data.

Though all companies processing cards are expected to meet the compliance standards, only those processing large volumes are subject to mandatory regular audits. Should a subsequent data leak or misuse occur that can be attributed to a compliance failure, a company can be penalised at levels that can escalate into millions of dollars.

These requirements apply to all card transactions, whether in person, online or over the phone. Phone transactions are likely to involve a human collecting the card details and either entering them into computer systems, or processing the payment through paper forms. The payment card Security Standards Council has detailed guides for best practice:

A policy should be in place to ensure that payment card data is protected against unauthorised viewing, copying, or scanning, in particular on desks.

Although these measures can help to protect your card data, there are still risks in case the details are misplaced or the person on the phone aren’t who they say they are.

Read more: AI scam calls imitating familiar voices are a growing problem – here's how they work

Basic tips for safe credit card use over the phone

If you provide card details over the phone, there are steps you can take to minimise the chance you’ll become the victim of fraud, or get your details leaked.

1. Verify the caller

If you didn’t initiate the call, hang up and call the company directly using details you’ve verified yourself. Scammers will often masquerade as a well-known company (for example, an online retailer or a courier) and convince you a payment failed or payment is needed to release a delivery.

Before you provide any information, confirm the caller is legitimate and the purpose of the call is genuine.

2. Be sceptical

If you are being offered a deal that’s too good to be true, have concerns about the person you’re dealing with, or just feel something is not quite right, hang up. You can always call them back later if the caller turns out to be legitimate.

3. Use secure payment methods

If you’ve previously paid the company with other (more secure) methods, ask to use that same method.

4. Keep records

Make sure you record details of the company, the representative you are speaking to and the amount being charged. You should also ask for an order or transaction reference. Don’t forget to ask for the receipt to be sent to you.

Check the transaction against your card matches the receipt – use your banking app, don’t wait for the statement to come through.

Virtual credit cards

In addition to the safeguards mentioned above, a virtual credit card can help reduce the risk of card fraud.

You probably already have a form of virtual card if you’ve added a credit card to your phone for mobile payments. Depending on the financial institution, you can create a new credit card number linked to your physical card.

Some banks extend this functionality to allow you to generate unique card numbers and/or CVV numbers (the three digits at the back of your card). With this approach you can easily separate transactions and cancel a virtual card/number if you have any concerns.

What to do if you think your card details have been compromised or stolen?

It’s important not to panic, but quick action is essential:

  • call your bank and get the card blocked so you won’t lose any more money. Depending on your situation, you can also block/cancel the card through your banking app or website

  • report the issue to the police or other relevant body

  • monitor your account(s) for any unusual transactions

  • explore card settings in your banking app or website – many providers allow you to limit transactions based on value, restrict transaction types or enable alerts

  • you may want to consider registering for credit monitoring services and to enable fraud alerts.

So, should I give my card details over the phone?

If you want to minimise risk, it’s best to avoid giving card details over the phone if you can. Providing your card details via a website still has risks, but at least it removes the human element.

The best solution currently available is to use virtual cards – if anything goes wrong you can cancel just that unique card identity, rather than your entire card.

How risky is it to give card details over the phone and how do I reduce the chance of fraud? (2024)

FAQs

How risky is it to give card details over the phone and how do I reduce the chance of fraud? ›

If you want to minimise risk, it's best to avoid giving card details over the phone if you can. Providing your card details via a website still has risks, but at least it removes the human element.

Is it safe to give card details over phone? ›

If you want to minimise risk, it's best to avoid giving card details over the phone if you can. Providing your card details via a website still has risks, but at least it removes the human element.

Should you give your credit card security code over the phone? ›

Use reputable websites when shopping online. Don't provide your CVV when using your credit or debit card in person. Don't make payments over the phone with your credit card, unless you make the call directly and know it's a trusted vendor. Scammers have been known to cold-call victims to perpetrate financial fraud.

How can you safeguard your credit card information on your phone? ›

Fortunately, there are simple solutions you can use to protect yourself and keep your credit card details from getting stolen online.
  1. (1) Limit Your Risk With One Account. ...
  2. (2) Get Virtual Account Numbers. ...
  3. (3) Create Unique Passwords. ...
  4. (4) Remember "S Is for Secure" ...
  5. (5) Use Known, Trusted Sites.

What to do if you give your card details to a scammer? ›

Contact your bank or card provider to alert them. Reporting is an important first step to getting your money back, and you could be liable for all money lost before you report it. If you've been targeted, even if you don't fall victim, you can report it to Action Fraud.

What card details should you never give over the phone? ›

Never make your card details shown in public. Never provide your cvv number when asked on the phone or when processing a card payment in person. This is a sure sign of an impending fraud! CVV numbers are for online purchases only!

What bank details are safe to give over the phone? ›

It's generally considered safe to give out your account number and sort code, but you should always use common sense and avoid sharing your bank details with people you don't know or expect payments from.

What is the safest way to send credit card information? ›

One way is to use a secure server that encrypts the information before it is sent. Another way is to use a secure payment gateway, such as PayPal. Finally, you can also use a credit card reader that encrypts the information before it is sent. Which method you use will depend on your needs and preferences.

Do I need to give my CVV number for a refund? ›

There is no reason to provide the CVV for a refund. None. It is used only when making a charge.

Can credit card be hacked without CVV? ›

This protects you in the event the site is hacked and your data is breached. Even if someone has your credit card number, if they don't have the corresponding CVV, it's much harder to make unauthorized purchases with it.

Is taking credit card information over the phone PCI compliant? ›

PCI Compliance for Credit Cards Over the Phone

While most of today's transactions are processed via a payment kiosk or online portal, it's not uncommon for an organization to take credit card information over the phone. However, those transactions must still respect PCI compliance standards.

How to avoid getting your credit card hacked? ›

To prevent potential breaches, be on the lookout for phishing schemes and use tough-to-crack passwords.
  1. Get a Replacement Card. ...
  2. Check Your Account Online. ...
  3. Freeze Your Credit. ...
  4. Place a Fraud Alert. ...
  5. Order Your Credit Reports. ...
  6. Watch for Phishing Scams. ...
  7. Be Smart About Passwords.

How can I make my debit card more secure? ›

10 ways to keep your debit card safe from fraud
  1. Protect your card details and PIN. ...
  2. Keep a close eye on your account. ...
  3. Set debit card alerts and controls. ...
  4. Use secure ATMs. ...
  5. Be cautious with online transactions. ...
  6. Keep your physical card safe. ...
  7. Report lost or stolen cards immediately. ...
  8. Make sure your bank has your contact information.
Mar 28, 2024

Can a scammer access my bank account with my phone number? ›

Having just your phone number doesn't give scammers direct access to your bank account. However, they can use it as a starting point for phishing attacks or SIM swap scams. If they succeed in these methods, they could potentially access your bank's 2FA codes sent via SMS.

Can someone steal your money if they know your card number? ›

A fraudster can steal money from you with just your debit card number and CVV. In many cases, that's all the information they need to enter at checkout to make payments online. Any deduction from your bank account, whether a purchase or cash withdrawal, is money you lose.

What information does a scammer need to access my bank account? ›

The easiest way to become a victim of a bank scam is to share your banking info — e.g., account numbers, PIN codes, social security number — with someone you don't know well and trust. If someone asks for sensitive banking details, proceed with caution.

Is it safe to give your 16 digit credit card number? ›

In general, it is safe to give out your credit card number online or by phone. Never give out your card number if: You have any doubts about the security of the transaction. You did not initiate the transaction.

Is it safe to give a credit card number without CVV? ›

Even if someone has your credit card number, if they don't have the corresponding CVV, it's much harder to make unauthorized purchases with it. By asking for the CVV code, the merchant is adding an extra level of security to ensure that the cardmember is the one making the purchase.

Is it safe to enter card details on Iphone? ›

Apple doesn't store or have access to the original credit, debit, or prepaid card numbers that you use with Apple Pay. And when you use Apple Pay with credit, debit, or prepaid cards, Apple doesn't retain any transaction information that can be tied back to you.

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