Online Fraud Increasing – How to Protect your Credit Cards

3rd August 2012  

Since the first days of online shopping and banking, identity theft and online credit card fraud have been a problem. Unfortunately, whilst the authorities, card issuers and the ecommerce industry work tirelessly to prevent online fraud, the fraudsters themselves are equally industrious in their illegal search for your online details.

According to the 2012 Fraud Report by credit checking agency Experian (you can read the full text of the report here), online identity fraud has actually increased by some 300% since April 2010. While this may be a sign of the ever more sophisticated techniques used by online criminals, the authors of the report say that Internet users themselves are at least partly to blame.

Online consumers duplicate passwords

The report says that one of the most substantial problems is that online consumers have such a large number of different online accounts – 26 on average – while averaging only five unique passwords between these separate accounts. This means that once an online fraudster has gained access to one account, whether it’s currently used or not, it may be then a simple matter for them to use the same password to access credit card information held in online banking and e-shopping accounts.

Consumers should not fear using their credit cards to make purchases online. However, while it is possible to inadvertently leave yourself exposed to Internet fraudsters, it is also relatively easy to take a few simple steps to protect yourself.

5 simple ways to protect your online identity and your credit cards:-

  1. Use strong passwords – Having a strong password is the most important way to ensure that it cannot be broken. Use both letters and numbers, and at least seven characters. Obvious and common words should be avoided, as should date of birth or any other information that could be easily accessed.
  2. Use different passwords for different websites – According to the Experian report, many Internet users have the same passwords for lots of different websites. By using unique passwords for each account you can prevent someone being able to access your credit card accounts after hacking an online account with a lower level of security. It’s also a good idea to shutdown any accounts you don’t use.
  3. Change passwords periodically – The more often you change your passwords, the less likely they are to be compromised.
  4. Be vigilant against phishing – Be wary of any emails claiming to be from your bank or other organisations that claim you need to ‘verify’ your account or enter your details. If in doubt, visit the relevant website and log in via the normal method, DO NOT click any link provided in the body of the email.
  5. When making purchases make sure you have a secure connection – Look for a padlock icon or the prefix ‘https’ in your browser’s address bar – these symbolise that your connection is secure, and any data sent will be encrypted. Be particularly vigilant when using sites that are not well known to you.

A few simple precautions can mean the difference between keeping your identity and your credit card secure and leaving yourself vulnerable to online fraud. Make it difficult for criminals to get to your details by using a little bit of common sense and forethought.

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