Online Shopping Puts Consumers at Greater Risk of Fraud

Rachel Morey
June 16, 2017
Great Risk For Fraud

A recent poll by creditcards.com indicates that despite rising reports of credit card fraud, consumers continue to allow merchants to save their credit card and debit card details online.

Two-thirds of the poll’s respondents indicated that they allow at least one mobile app or website to save their credit or debit card information on their website. Ten percent of the respondents said they habitually allow merchants to keep their credit card details for future use.

Older consumers may be more at risk when shopping online simply because they tend to be more trusting than millennials. The creditcards.com poll indicated that 20% of people between the ages of 72 and 92 always save their payment information online at a merchant’s website.

The convenience is undeniable, but so is the risk. Storing payment information in several places online opens consumers up to fraud. Websites like Amazon make purchasing items on an as-needed basis simple.

Cyber security presents a huge challenge to retailers. In 2016, there was a 40% increase in fraud that didn’t involve a physical credit card. This type of card-not-present theft happens in cyber space, where the EMV chip technology doesn’t offer protection.

Free Wi-Fi presents a risk that most people don’t consider. Settling into a hotel lobby or coffee shop with a laptop and connecting to the Wi-Fi network there could mean opening the door to thieves, who can easily access the electronic device used on the network.

It’s important to avoid making online purchases over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Don’t check bank accounts, access credit card websites, or pay bills, either. Stick to streaming music and reading websites on this type of network.

When storing credit card information on a site where the password isn’t up to par, financial details are at risk. Using the same password from one site to the next is easy, but it’s also a sure way to open the door to thieves. Enable two-step verification on sites where it’s necessary to store credit card information. If someone tries to access the account from a new IP address, an alert is sent immediately. This extra layer of protection offers card owners the chance to stop fraud before it gets out of hand. Many credit card companies offer customizable text or email alerts for transactions. If something doesn’t look right, it’s easy to take immediate action by calling the credit card company.

Some cards have additional optional security features for online shoppers. MasterCard offers the option of requiring a PIN when using the card online, and Visa sends a password through their Verified by Visa program that is required to complete an online purchase.

It's important to be aware that even when using a personal computer on a secure network, saving credit card details online carries risk. Anyone who has access to that device could easily make purchases online with just a few clicks.

Credit cards typically carry more protection against fraud and theft than debit cards. Check statements frequently for unauthorized transactions. Of course, the best defense against online credit card fraud is simply typing in the credit card details with each transaction. Many consumers just aren’t willing to take on that inconvenience, though.

According to the creditcard.com survey, 40% of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers never store their credit card information online. Online shopping is more popular with higher earners and young people. Over 75% of Millennials regularly make purchases online.

Regardless of the age or demographic, consumers need to guard their credit card information carefully as thieves get better at stealing sensitive financial information.

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