Security and fraud
Credit Card Security and Fraud
It's easy to forget the risk of making payments online, but card fraud continues to be something of a problem: the UK lost £341 million to credit card fraud in 2011, according to the Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK). Over 60% of that figure belonged to 'card-not-present' fraud – fraudulent use of your card details online or over the phone*. On the plus side, the figure shows a 7% drop from 2010, which is in part down to improved security measures and customer awareness – so you needn't fall victim.
*Source: Financial Fraud Action (FFA UK), Fraud: the Facts 2012.
What is online credit card fraud?
Fraud comes in many forms. 'Skimming' is when the scammer steals the information on your credit card's magnetic strip at the point of sale - it could be via a counterfeit cash machine or a chip and pin device. Identity theft involves a scammer stealing your identity (in a virtual sense) and using it to do anything from opening an account to taking out a mortgage. But in today's digital age, 'phishing' is most common*. This is where a web page entices credit card holders to enter their details voluntarily. Phishing can start with a letter or phone call, but frequently it's in the guise of an email with a web link. Once on the site you may be asked to enter your login name, password and credit card number - in short, all that's needed to hack your account.
How do I shop securely on line?
There's no need to give up shopping from the sofa - just be extra cautious. Using a secure connection is one way to play it safe. If there's a padlock visible at the bottom of you browser when paying online, it shows that the site is secure. If the padlock is broken, so is the security. Buying from well-known stores is another safeguard, and if you shop elsewhere, checking the site for contact details and ensuring there is a way to contact or trace them other than via the website is a sensible idea. If those details are missing, it could be a red flag. The good news is that shopping online with a credit card does offer extra levels of protection - take out a Tesco Card Protection Plus and you're instantly covered against unauthorised use of your credit card if it is lost or stolen.
How can you prevent being a victim of fraud?
The obvious way to stay safe is to keep your details under wraps. Safety measures can include avoiding using a computer in public - such as an internet cafe or at work - when buying online. Home-based computers, where your details are far less likely to be seen by third parties, are much safer. It's worth knowing that a reputable company will never ask you for your online banking password, secret number or other account details*. Wherever you are, though, sending your credit card numbers over email would be inadvisable, and parting with your PIN online or otherwise - even to a bank employee - is not a sensible idea. It's the most important number scammers need to steal your funds.
What actions do you take when fraud or theft has taken place?
If you think your credit card is lost or stolen, reporting it to your lender, cancelling it and requesting a new one are the usual first steps. Identity theft is far more in-depth but help is at hand - the Directgov website has a wealth of information on steps to help you through it.
*Source: Safe shopping with cards.