Today’s post is by TJ Horan, vice president at FICO, who oversees fraud solutions and is on a mission to arm consumers with practical knowledge to protect themselves from credit card fraud.
On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the month of December offers savvy spenders even more opportunities to scoop up great deals on their holiday shopping. With Green Monday, Free Shipping Day, and Super Saturday all happening within one week of each other, consumer spending is expected to rise to record amounts this year—especially purchases made online or via mobile. And that presents a potential issue for individuals swiping their credit cards all month long: a higher sales volume during the holiday season also means a greater risk of card-present and card-not-present (CNP) credit card fraud.
Especially this year, there are a few factors that have made credit card fraud during this period more likely, including recent high-profile data breaches that have leaked millions of cardholders’ personal information. Plus, data from FICO’s fraud detection Falcon platform found that the number of compromised credit cards at ATMs and merchants rose 39 percent in the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016 so you could even fall victim to fraud when taking cash out of the ATM!
But I’m not saying this to scare you—in fact, I have some ideas to help. If you’re out holiday shopping, expect that criminals are out to get your money and arm yourself with a few preventative actions which I’ve shared below.
FICO’s Fraud Prevention Tips
for Holiday Shoppers
Tip #1: Stay Vigilant at ATMs
If an ATM looks odd, or your card doesn’t enter the machine smoothly, consider going somewhere else for your cash. Never approach an ATM if anyone is lingering nearby, and never engage in conversations with others around an ATM.
If your plastic card is captured inside of an ATM, call your card issuer immediately to report it.
Tip #2: Monitor All of Your Purchases Closely
This should be a general practice throughout the year, not just during the holidays. You should always check your credit card transactions (using online banking and your monthly statement) to ensure that all charges are accounted for.
Tip #3: Communicate With Your Card Issuer
Ask your card issuer for a new card number if you suspect that your payment card may have been compromised. It’s important to change both your card number and your PIN whenever you experience a potential theft of your personal information.
Also, most card providers can provide alerts via text message or email to notify you if fraudulent activity is suspected on your card; be sure to enable and take advantage of these helpful communications. It’s important, too, to make sure that your card issuer has your most up-to-date address and cell phone information for every card you have, so that you can be reached if there is ever a critical situation that requires your immediate attention.
The holiday season is a time to relax and unwind with friends and family—not to worry about the risk of theft or fraud. Follow these tips for peace of mind while shopping and make the holidays special with good company and of course, the perfect gift. Happy Holidays!