Don’t Let Credit Card Fraud Ruin Your Holiday Season
Credit Card fraud is on the rise and is especially common during the holiday season. In a Reuter’s article addressing holiday fraud last year it was indicated that an upswing in fraudulent activity occurred, increasing from 1 in 114 transactions in 2014 to 1 in 86 transactions in 2015. The expectation is that holiday fraud will continue to rise in 2016, even as EMV “chip” cards and technology become more common. Although the switch to chip card technology has occurred, it is anticipated that fraud on e-commerce transactions will increase as fraud in brick and mortar establishments decreases. This is based on what was experienced in Europe after the conversion to EMV chip cards occurred there. Fraudsters shifted their activity from brick and mortar purchases to e-commerce (internet purchases).
So, what do the e-commerce statistics tell us about fraudulent activity during the holiday season? According to a 2015 Security Newswire article, e-commerce holiday fraud is on the rise as well. E-commerce fraud jumped 21% during the 2015 Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as compared to the same time period in 2014. The article indicates that fraud is higher on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Christmas Eve, with the most significant activity directed toward the purchase of electronic gift cards. (Fraudsters use stolen credit/debit card information to purchase untraceable gift cards). Unfortunately, “Fraudsters don’t take off for the holidays. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are among the worst days for fraud, with rates soaring by more than 200% on those days compared to the average fraud rate.” This according to article from CreditCards.com.
Although these holiday statistics can be alarming, there are ways we can protect ourselves during the holidays as it relates to online and in store purchasing….
- Be aware of your surroundings when you’re out shopping. Make sure nobody is standing close to you when you pull out your card and only reveal your card when you are at the counter and ready to make a purchase.
- Be careful when shopping online. Make sure you are shopping on a secure site when you “check out.” Secure online shopping sites will have an “s” after the http (https) in the URL bar and be sure to keep your browser updated with latest security patches.
- Avoid using a public computer when shopping online. If you must use a public computer, be careful not to use the “remember me” feature, as this stores your information, which can be accessed by the next person using the computer.
- Beware of phishing scams. Never give out personal information online unless you initiated the transaction. If you receive an email with a link requesting you to enter your personal information, you are most likely being scammed. If you receive an email from a shipper and/or retailer requesting information, check the email address and domain name and make sure they match the shipper/retailer. You should also remember that companies will not ask you to provide your user name, password or card information in an email.
- Check your credit or debit card account frequently during the holidays for unauthorized activity and report questionable transactions to your card issuer immediately.
- Protect your electronic devices with a passcode so that the information on them is inaccessible to others. Many of us use our electronic devices to store our card information so we need to ensure the information is passcode protected.
For other helpful information on protecting yourself during the holidays and year-round, click on the following links:
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tips to help you stay safe online
- FTC blog and helpful links
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) news, features, and resources
- FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
- Vermont Department of Taxes help and resources for identity theft and fraud
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