By all estimates, the upcoming holidays should give retailers a reason to celebrate. According to Marketwatch, the 2017 holiday shopping season promises to be the second best since the end of the great recession – growing by 5.7 over the 2016 season.
A recent Deloitte survey indicates that this year’s holiday shoppers will purchase 15 gifts during the season on average — and spend approximately $228 more per household than last year. Deloitte data also suggests that most gifts (51 percent) will be bought online, an increase of 18 to 21 percent over the 2016 holiday season.
While all this great news bodes well for your card portfolio, remember also that from Black Friday on fraudsters will be even more diligent in their efforts. And, while fraud detection systems, analysts and strategies are tremendous assets you can leverage, the best way to stop a fraudster is with an informed, vigilant and technologically equipped member.
Here are some expert tips to share with members:
1. Buy Only from Reputable Retailers. While counterfeit goods are often hard to spot, they are common out in the marketplace – especially online. Many items sold by unknown merchants turn out to be counterfeit or resold stolen goods. Consumers should exercise caution when merchandise is priced well below the going commercial rate.
2. Take Extra Steps to Secure Online Purchases. While EMV chips safeguard card data at the point of sale, they don’t protect e-commerce sales. Educate members about alternative payment methods that are safer to use online and via mobile devices, such as prepaid debit cards, Visa Checkout, Masterpass, and tokenized payment options like Apple Pay.
3. Secure PCs and Mobile Devices. One of the most problematic security threats to holiday shoppers is located right in their homes: the personal computer. Your members may be shopping from laptops, PCs and mobile devices infected with viruses and malware that give cybercriminals direct access to their personal and account data. Advise members to install quality virus and anti-malware scanning software on all computing devices to keep data secure.
4. Beware of Instant Savings Discounts. Consumers are often barraged with quick credit offers that can lead to ancillary identify theft. Let members know that they need to pay close attention to how their information is being collected if they are asked to open a credit account in exchange for a discount. Members should avoid verbally providing information to sales people, and should use caution as well when filling out paper forms that can easily be pocketed by retail personnel after they have left the premises.
5. Don’t Trust Those “Knuckle Busters.” Old-fashioned imprint machines that produce a carbon copy of payment cards still exist in the marketplace. Tell members never to use one.
6. Don’t Swipe at Checkout, Either. Chip-enabled payment cards are protected by very powerful fraud-fighting properties. The magnetic stripe on the back of the card is much less secure, which is why members should always avoid “swiping” their payment card at checkout. If a retailer has a valid reason for not accepting chip card payments, members should ask to use Apple, Samsung or Android Pay instead.
7. Keep a Close Eye on Balances. Members need to keep tabs on their checking, savings and credit accounts, should know how much money they have on deposit, and should also track how much they owe on revolving charge accounts. If dramatic changes in balances are noticed, they should contact your credit union immediately.
8. Use Mobile Controls and Alerts. Fraud continues to rise – and is even more prevalent during the busy holiday shopping season – which is why it is so important for all consumers to play an active role in their own card security. Providing members with a mobile app for card controls and alerts allows them to monitor transactions, stop fraudulent attempts before they can be carried out, restrict purchases to certain locations, merchants, merchant types, channels and time periods, and turn cards off altogether when not in use.
Bottom Line: Don’t let fraud steal your holiday cheer. Teaching members how to shop safely is the best gift you can give them this season and beyond.