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‘Tis the season of family, friends, food… and credit card fraud. The holiday season is notoriously the busiest time of year for cyber criminals, as almost 20% of entire U.S. retail sales happen during the holiday season. With credit card data breaches consistently increasing since 2013, it is safe to say that December 2016 could bring more holiday credit card fraud than we’ve ever seen before.

Fraud experts believe that the majority of holiday season breaches will occur online. This has already been proven by the credit card fraud results from Black Friday weekend, with online retail credit card fraud jumping 20% compared to last year. According to Claims Journal, the rise in online credit card fraud is attributed to the recent shift from consumers using traditional credit and debit cards with magnetic strips to EMV chip cards. While the new chip cards have proven to do a great job of stopping card-present fraud, it is now clear that fraudsters are turning to online transactions.

Although online credit card fraud has spiked, the physical credit cards in your wallet are still vulnerable to hackers. EMV chip cards have given fraudsters the opportunity to steal your credit card information in new ways – especially through skimming technology. Skimmers can be placed on ATM’s, gas pumps or payment processing machines within retail businesses. Here are some tips on how to spot and avoid credit card skimmers.

So how can you protect yourself from holiday credit card fraud this season? Here’s a list of card safety precautions for both consumers and retailers:

Tips for Consumers (Courtesy of Wise Bread)

  1. Avoid using a debit card online. If your information is going to be stolen, it is better to have it stolen on a credit card instead of from your checking account.
  2. Make sure the site is secure. Before you enter your personal financial information, check to make sure the page you are on includes an “s” at the end of “http” in the web address.
  3. Don’t make online purchases using public WiFi. Only shop on networks that require a network security key.
  4. Limit the cards in your wallet. Don’t shop with every credit card you own if you can avoid it. This will reduce your risk of falling victim to portable skimmers. Also, keep your credit cards in an RFID envelope, which is another way to reduce the risk of skimming attacks.
  5. Check ATM’s, gas pumps and self-checkout machines before swiping your card. This goes back to learning the basics of skimming and how to spot it.

For a complete list of safety tips to avoid holiday credit card fraud, click here.

Tips for Retailers

  1. Purchase a data breach protection plan. Cybercrime experts say that it isn’t a matter of if a business will be breached, but when. Though it’s imperative to take proper safety precautions against credit card theft, financial data breach protection will absorb the majority of the costs associated with a breach.
  2. Get PCI compliant. In addition to a data breach protection plan, demonstrating PCI compliance will rid you of all liability from your acquiring bank in the event of a data breach.
  3. Install a managed firewall. Instead of simply installing an over-the-counter firewall, work with a company that specializes in managed firewalls. That way, your network will be monitored 24/7 and you will be alerted immediately if an attack on your network occurs.
  4. Train your employees. Part of the PCI compliance process includes employee training. Make sure all of your employees handling customer credit card information have received proper training to spot suspicious credit card activity within your business.
  5. Use secure remote access. If you need to access your business network outside of your store, make sure you are using a secure remote access tool with two-factor authentication.

Contact us to learn more about how to protect your business from a credit card data breach this holiday season.

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