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How to beat the Christmas fraudsters


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Whether shopping on the high street or online in the run up to Christmas, it is essential that you take steps to protect yourself from the dangers of card fraud. In all that frantic festive shopping it is easy to fall into bad habits that play into the hands of sophisticated fraudsters.

 Card Watch


The good news for consumers is that the success of chip and PIN has seen card fraud in shops and supermarkets drop significantly. Fraud losses are down by 43% from £73.2 million to £42.1m in the face-to-face retail environment but shoppers are being reminded to be vigilant especially with Internet, phone and mail order transactions, where card-not-present fraud has increased but at a much slower rate than seen previously. In the busy Christmas period it is easy to lose sight of your card or drop your guard when entering your PIN during a purchase, and a momentary lapse is all that is needed to open the door for professional criminals.

When entering your PIN at a cashmachine or into a PIN pad in a shop you should always shield the number from prying eyes with your spare hand. Protecting your personal information is paramount and that also means shredding or destroying any receipts or documents that contain private financial details and not writing down passwords, login details or PIN numbers.

Online shopping is set to smash last year’s record with an estimated £7 billion being spent on getting the latest gadgets, toys and fashion accessories. Shopping online couldn’t be safer as long as you follow some simple security steps such as ensuring that your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed. You should also register your credit and debit cards with Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode, which enables cardholders to better authenticate themselves with a password when shopping online – making online transactions even safer.

But there are other precautions that you may not be familiar with. Millions of Britons are still not aware of some basic security pitfalls. A quarter of people surveyed by APACS have disclosed their PIN to someone else, 27% use the same PIN for all their cards and more than half of online shoppers never check that a website address changes from http to https (indicating the site is secure) before making a purchase.

When accessing internet banking or shopping sites you should always type the address into your web browser rather than going to a website from a link in an email and then entering your personal details. To make sure that a shopping website is secure check that the security icon (locked padlock or unbroken key symbol) is showing in the bottom of your browser window.

Click here for APACS top Ten Tips to foil the fraudsters:

 www.cardwatch.org.uk  & www.banksafeonline.org.uk

Watch an online interview/chat with Mark Bowerman and Richard Martin from APACS offer advice on beating the Christmas fraudsters - click here

November 2006

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