While the holidays should be a time where we get excited about spending time with family and friends, it’s also a time for our awareness toward fraud to be heightened. The holiday season is prime time for thieves, scammers and identity thieves who hope to cash out as people become preoccupied with gift-buying, festivities, and travel.
Steps are being taken to help prevent fraud by switching to EMV chip cards. However, that may make this holiday season the last best chance for fraudsters to have access to data as readily as they have been able to get it under the current card system. With the chip card transactions increasing in-store, it will likely increase fraudulent attempts for online transactions.
ACI research showed fraud rates by volume for transactions that don’t involve physically swiping a card have increased in 2015, with one out of every 86 transactions a fraudulent attempt compared with one out of 114 transactions in 2014. Fraud attempt rates by volume have increased by 30 percent compared with 2014 as consumers shop with more devices online and card issuers are slower to shut down accounts after fraudulent activity.
MarketWatch says top holiday scams include: fake charities, fake online shopping websites, and gift card fraud — where swindlers copy the codes off the back of gift cards before they’re purchased and then wait for them to be activated to drain the funds.
And USA Today gives us 6 more common fraud situtaions during the holidays.
Another big scam is phony package notifications. You may get an email that looks like it’s from a well-known courier service saying you have a package, but clicking on the link could download a computer virus. Getting a notification by e-mail is usually the first clue it’s a con. We encourage you to contact the company to authenticate any delivery notification.
Finally, here are some tips to help you avoid credit card fraud during the holiday season:
- Be on your toes. Only open emails, attachments, and links from people you know.
- Don’t believe what you see. It’s easy to steal the colors, logos and header of an established organization and make emails appear legitimate.
- Avoid sharing. Don’t reveal personal or financial information in an email, text or over the phone.
- Pay attention to a website’s URL. Hover over any links to see where they lead.
- If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Report suspected phishing emails to [email protected]
- Keep a clean machine. Make sure you keep your anti-virus software up to date.
Be very aware this holiday season as you are making purchases. Make it a season of family, friends, and awareness to everything around you. Don’t be too trusting-if it seems too good to be true, it almost always is. Don’t keep the threat of fraud from allowing you to enjoy this time. Have a Merry Christmas and do your best to keep your information safe!