Safer Online Shopping
Taking these sensible precautions when shopping online can help protect your credit card information.
Credit card fraud is as rampant as ever, and today's landscape of digital shopping, while convenient in many ways, is only contributing to security complications. Websites that sell goods and services almost always ask for your credit card information, and nearly as often, they prompt you to save that information on the site so that it's easier to make a purchase on your next visit. Unfortunately, this isn't always a safe idea.
According to a report released by CreditCards.com in May, two out of every three online shoppers had their credit card information stored on at least one website or mobile app, and as many as 10 percent said they always save their credit card information online, no matter where they're doing their shopping.1 As many as 94 million Americans store such information online.
Storing your credit card data on a shopping site, especially if it's a site you use frequently to make purchases, may seem harmless, and it's certainly true that it makes the checkout process much more convenient. The problem is that cyber criminals are trying every day to obtain such information. It's easy to write off such a thing as unlikely, particularly if you're using a well-known and highly regarded shopping site/app, but the reality is that even these places can be vulnerable. It's not uncommon to see large chain stores apologizing for data breaches.
CreditDonkey2 recently compiled rather unnerving statistics regarding credit card fraud that might make you think twice about joining or remaining among those 94 million Americans storing their credit card data online. Almost half (46 percent) of Americans have been victims of credit card fraud in the past five years. The number is 21 percent for debit card fraud. In 2016, losses were estimated at $24.71 billion, up 12 percent from the previous year. There's a new identity theft victim every two seconds. 17.6 million incidents of identity theft were reported in 2014. While the introduction of EMV and chip cards may help reduce in-store fraud, it does nothing for online fraud.
"Thieves are getting savvier with being able to break through corporate and bank information systems and take out credit data," according to financial journalist Rebecca Lake.2 "As a result, we're seeing an upswing in credit and debit card fraud related to these digital break-ins. From mid-2015 to mid-2016, 1,818 breaches were reported globally. The United States seems to be especially vulnerable to data breaches compared to the rest of the world. In 2016, 1,093 breaches were reported in the U.S."
When it comes to online shopping, the best thing to do would be to avoid posting your card information on any site. If you do choose to do so, however, you should at least have a good idea of how secure that site is. A number of online tools from security providers may help you determine this. Money Talks News3 suggests the following five free tools: AVG’s Threat Labs, Google’s Safe Browsing Site Status, Norton’s Safe Web, Trend Micro’s Site Safety Center, and Web of Trust (WOT).
As added protection, be careful about who may be using your computer. Make sure your machine is password-protected, and never store information using a public computer. This is just inviting trouble. Be sure to review your monthly credit card statements and watch for any transactions that you didn't make or authorize.
Taking these precautions may make your online shopping a little less convenient, but it's worth it to help protect your sensitive data. The Nevada State Bank website offers additional information on identity theft and internet fraud.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.