Five Ways to Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud this Holiday Season

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CO-OP Financial Services Advises Consumers Be Proactive to Prevent Card-Related Fraud

Before entering credit card information online, check to see that the URL begins with https:// and an icon of a lock appears to the left of the web address, signifying a secure network connection.

Beginning with Black Friday (November 27), millions of Americans are expected to once again put their credit cards hard at work during the holiday season.

According to ShopperTrak, shoppers in the U.S. spent approximately $9 billion in stores during Black Friday 2014, the majority of transactions using debit and credit cards. Reports from comScore show that U.S. e-commerce spending the day after Thanksgiving rose 26 percent to more than $1.5 billion in 2014.

“The day after Thanksgiving has become the biggest shopping event of the year, which means card usage will be much higher than usual,” said Jennifer Kerry, Vice President, Credit Card Services for CO-OP Financial Services, a financial technology provider to credit unions. “Fraudsters see the busy holiday shopping season as an easy opportunity to take advantage of a much larger pool of consumers, ranging from data hacks stealing card information from large retailers, to criminals targeting individual cardholders with online scams.”

To help combat card-related fraud, the U.S. payment industry is adopting EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) technology as a new security standard for credit and debit cards. Already used globally, EMV chip cards are making their way into the hands of U.S. consumers, and merchants are upgrading to new EMV terminal platforms…many in time for the holiday buying season. Consumers can also expect broader support for near field communication (NFC) and tokenization technologies, which enable and secure digital wallet applications such as Apple Pay and soon Android Pay and Samsung Pay.

“Security technologies such as EMV and tokenization can dramatically reduce exposure to card fraud,” said Kerry. “Make no mistake, though, consumers are still at risk when they shop online and need to proactively protect themselves from fraud by employing financial security best practices.”

Kerry encourages consumers to follow these five steps this holiday season:

1.    Ensure you’re using a secure internet connection
Secure communications between you and your web server help prevent cyberattacks, especially when utilizing untrusted networks at places like coffee shops or libraries. Before entering credit card information online, check to see that the URL begins with https:// and an icon of a lock appears to the left of the web address, signifying a secure network connection. Additionally type in a trusted URL for a company’s website into the address bar of your browser and bypass the link in what could be a phishing message or unsecure site.

2.    Use a variety of difficult passwords
With the seemingly endless number of sites requiring a password, using a password manager such as 1Password is a quick way to regain your sanity and security. By randomly generating unique passwords for each website, you reduce the risk of one stolen password compromising security in other areas of your life.

3.    Monitor card use
Monitor transactions and report any suspected fraud immediately. Download a mobile app such as CardNav by CO-OP, which allows consumers to set controls for card usage, receive real-time alerts when unapproved transactions occur and even temporarily disable their own cards.

4.    Keep your personal information safe
Do not provide personal or financial information to unsolicited requests for information. Remember that reputable companies let you come to them rather than approaching you to gather information or take action. Additionally, don’t open messages from unknown senders.

5.    Protect your hardware
Update your operating system regularly and make sure you have the best security software products installed on all your devices. Experts in the industry suggest using antivirus protection and a firewall.    

For more financial security tips from CO-OP, visit http://www.co-opcreditunions.org.

About CO-OP Financial Services

Based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and founded in 1981, CO-OP Financial Services is the nation’s largest credit union service organization in terms of number of credit unions, assets and members. The company helps credit unions thrive by providing products and services that make it more convenient for members to do business with them. With a motto of “Be There. Be More,” CO-OP’s products fall into three business lines, including “Locations,” (ATM, shared branching and call center services); “Card Payments” (debit and credit processing) and “Mobile/Virtual” (mobile, online, check imaging, bill pay services). To learn more visit http://www.co-opfs.org.

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Cullen Bushnell
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