According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pennsylvania residents lost more than $20.8 million to internet fraud in 2014.
This holiday season, the Pennsylvania Bankers Association is reminding people to be safe with their banking information when shopping with a credit card, whether online or in person.
Ben Wallace, PA Bankers Technology Committee Chair, said the new EMV chip credit cards (EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies that launched the technology) are the biggest change to security for shopping this year.
“If in fact your bank has issued you a card, and not all banks have … please make an attempt to use the chip card where possible,” Wallace said. “It’s obviously the most secure way we have to make a traditional card payment today.”
Although the cards are much more secure than the older magnetic strip cards, not all retailers accept the technology yet, according to Wallace.
He said he recommends using “reputable merchants” when shopping online to avoid compromising your information.
“So this is your Amazons, your Best Buys, those that very likely have security systems and mechanisms in place to protect consumers,” he said. “So we always guide, use a merchant that you’re familiar with, that you know.”
He said people should pay close attention to spending patterns to catch potential illegal activity happening in their bank account.
“Log into your online or mobile banking, if not every day, multiple times every day,” he said. “Because if you’re not shopping and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes the occasional fraudulent transaction could sneak through and you may not notice it.”
Wallace said he advises against shopping online while connected to public networks, like the wireless internet often found in restaurants and coffee shops.
“While the entities themselves have very valid hotspots … we have seen impersonations of these hotspots, meaning you’re actually connecting to a malicious actor who is then sort of proxy-ing your request out to the general storefronts. You could be very well exposed,” he said.
Fraudulent activity is often more common over the holiday season, because a higher number of transactions take place than at any other time in the year, according to Wallace.