Final numbers aren’t in, but Black Friday 2016 appears to have exceeded predictions. And Cyber Monday is projected to be the biggest in history, with sales reaching $3.3 billion. But with the holiday season comes another, more sobering statistic: credit card fraud and its many new iterations are expected to be at an all-time high.
Traditional credit card fraud is changing. Advancing retail technology and chip cards are forcing fraudsters to adapt and adopt alternate scams. Many are taking their crimes online. To avoid using a physical card, they are taking advantage of ship-to-store and next-day-pickup using only a stolen card number. They are going after big-ticket items, such as fitness trackers, wireless headphones and designer sneakers.
Another new technique is the creation of fake wireless routers. If a victim innocently joins an open network, criminals on the other end are in a position to steal information.
Spoof sites and fake apps are also becoming popular with fraudsters. According to the New York Times, Apple’s app store has seen a huge uptick of fake retail and product apps. Per a Risk IQ report , 10 percent of the 5,315 apps found when searching “Black Friday” in global app stores are malicious. Newyorker.com Editor Nicholas Thompson offered some tips for consumers to protect themselves when it comes to using apps:
- Look for misspellings and bad grammar.
- Beware of being asked for too much information
- Check the app’s reviews – hopefully they are abundant and positive.
- If something seems wrong, it probably is. Stop and investigate further.
In 2015, the cyber security company Splash Data found that many consumers are failing to take even the simplest measures to protect themselves against credit card fraud and online identity theft. They noted that the most commonly used passwords are “123456” and “password.” Thompson advises all consumers to vary their passwords regularly and use random combinations of capital letters, lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. Obviously, for most people, long and complicated passwords are hard to remember. But anybody can come up with a secret hiding place for their passwords–just make sure it’s truly secret. Thompson also advises that for email and other truly important things, one should use two-factor authentication. For someone to get in, they not only have to have your complicated password, but they also have to have your phone (or whatever device you use) in their possession.
As technology marches on, old-fashioned credit card fraud methods, while still around, are adapting quickly. Consumers and retailers alike need to be aware of new credit card scams and schemes. They also need to get into some fundamental practices to protect themselves. Below are six of those common-sense habits to protect against credit card fraud, online fraud and identity theft:
- Keep a close eye on your transaction history.
- Be suspicious. Always ask yourself “Is this legit?”
- Consider using mobile payment apps; they’re more secure.Verify site security. Look for URLs that start with “https://”
- Set account alerts with your financial institutions.
- Understand your credit card’s fraud protection offerings.
Enjoy your holiday shopping. But be aware.