The Transition to EMV Cards Has Create a New Fraud Threat for Holiday Shopping
The retail industry is ramping up for its much anticipated Black Friday event, the unofficial start of the holiday season. Are you ready?
Black Friday: The Old and New
Historically, Black Friday referred to retail stores whose sales would finally take them ‘into the black’ on the day after Thanksgiving.
Today, Black Friday is known for killer deals, stampedes and long lines. Black Friday has expanded to include the entire Thanksgiving weekend shopping blowout, which for many retailers begins on Thanksgiving and ends with Cyber Monday.
Black Friday Shopping Tips
How do you, the consumer, prepare for such an event? If you’re planning on braving the crowds and fanatic shoppers in the wee hours of the morning, grab a cup of joe, throw on your sweatpants, tie your hair back, roll up your sleeves and dive in; it’s gonna get messy.
Actually, while diving headfirst into the madness might sound appealing, it is best to have a well-thought out plan.
Here are some tips for shopping on Black Friday:
- Map it out. Scroll through the sale papers and identify which stores have the best sales, their hours and locations. Mapping out your strategy will help you to avoid the masses and allow you to find the items you are looking for without the stress of the crowd.
- Divide and conquer. Split your list with your shopping buddy to quickly cover more of the store. Or, have one person stand in line while the other one wades into the aisles.
- Forgo the cart. Trying to navigate crowded aisles with a shopping cart is frustrating and will slow you down. Have one person on ‘cart duty’ that stays in a central location for easy drop-off. Other shoppers can find the items, bring them to the cart, and then move back into shopping mode easily.
Be On the Lookout for Fraud
Lurking in the aisles along with Black Friday shoppers, searching for a great deal, opportunists may be just waiting for a chance to pounce. Unfortunately, they aren’t looking for the hottest new toy; they’re looking for the chance to shop with someone else’s money.
A danger of shopping, especially during the crowded, busy holiday shopping season, is dealing with a lost or stolen wallet. That sinking feeling in your stomach when you reach for your wallet to pay can wreak havoc on holiday cheer and take the fun out of shopping. Suddenly, everyone looks suspicious and is suspect.
Equally as disheartening is the realization that some of your purchases have been stolen. A few holiday shopping reminders are important to keep in mind:
- Make sure to protect your personal belonging while shopping, keeping handbags closed and close to the body.
- Take special precautions when entering and leaving your vehicle, and make sure that doors and windows are secure.
- Secure purchases in the trunk or out of sight.
- Don’t leave purchases unattended.
Cyber Monday Shopping Tips
For those who are not willing dive into the trenches with shopaholics, you can now have a virtual Black Friday experience in the comfort of your own home. Retail stores share many of their Black Friday sales on line, and some have begun to offer online-only specials for Black Friday online shoppers.
Adding to the shopping mayhem, the Monday after Thanksgiving has been designated Cyber Monday by retailers hoping to drive traffic to online sources.
But what about security on Black Friday Online or Cyber Monday? Is it possible to protect yourself from being an online fraud victim while you’re shopping from home?
What about that new chip card. Isn’t it more secure?
EMV Effects on Online Fraud
Retailers are bracing for increased online fraud due to EMV. EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) is a smart chip located on most major credit cards. The chip stores the customer’s information such as shopping habits and personal data. During a purchase, the information is relayed from the retailer’s terminal or reader to the bank; communications between the two are lighting fast.
The EMV chip makes a determination if the card belongs to the consumer and if that purchase is likely to have been made by that consumer based on historical information. EMV makes in-person transactions far more secure.
But since EMV’s inception, criminals are looking for a new outlet and have targeted online. Online purchases are not verified through a card reader; consequently, the EMV chip cannot do its job. The result? Your personal information could be at risk.
How can you protect yourself from online holiday scams and fraud?
- Shop at known retailers.
- Check the address. Sites using https in their address encrypt information, so your card information is secure.
- Go the extra step. Some sites have begun to use a two-step authentication process, asking for a password and a verification code that is transmitted via text. Rather than get annoyed at the ‘inconvenience’, be glad they’re taking extra steps to secure your data.
- Go directly to a website, don’t follow email or social media links.
- If something seems wrong, leave the site without completing a purchase.
- Monitor bank account and credit card transactions regularly to detect fraudulent use. Contact your bank immediately if you notice unauthorized transactions.
Whether you are shopping in a store or on line, following these tips will help you have a safer shopping experience on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With any luck, you will have all of your holiday shopping done before your Thanksgiving leftovers are gone.