It's not just ransomware cyber-attacks from the likes of WannaCry that you to worry about: payment card fraudsters are growing bolder as the digital age opens up new uses - and new vulnerabilities - for digital devices.

According to CreditCards.com, credit and debit card fraud alerts are up 15% from 2015 to 2017. Separating the two versions of payment plastic, "31% of U.S. adults have received a fraud alert regarding a credit card and 25% have received one concerning a debit card," the report states.

Cyber-thieves appear to prefer stealing credit card data.

"Fraudsters seem to be swinging for the fences, focusing their efforts on high-value targets," notes Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com's senior industry analyst. "And it's not only more affluent and more educated households. Credit card limits typically exceed checking account balances. I think that's why credit card fraud alerts outpace debit card alerts even though debit transactions outnumber credit transactions on a two-to-one basis."

CreditCards.com notes not all payment card fraud alerts are direct breaches - 37% of Americans who have received card fraud notifications say the purchases in question were "legitimate."

That still leaves plenty of alerts that involved instances of payment card fraud, and when that happens, cardholders need to know what steps to take to address the problem.

"The first thing a consumer should do, if they receive a credit or debit card fraud alert, is to call the specific credit or debit card issuer, or in the case of an alert from a credit bureau then all credit or debit issuers should be contacted," says Scott Salaske, founder and CEO of Paymently, LLC in Troy, Mich.

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