Experts say that the popularity of year-end e-commerce events have increased the instances of both card-present and card-not-present fraud.
This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales could present heightened risks, as record levels of card fraud are expected, said TJ Horan, vice president of fraud solutions at data analytics and credit scoring company FICO.
Mr Horan said: “If you’re getting ready to start your holiday shopping, you should expect that criminals are out to get your money, and take a few preventative steps.
“It pays to keep your eyes open at ATMs, to monitor your purchases at least weekly, and to make sure your card issuer has the right contact info for you.”
Besides card fraud, the festive period is also a time for scammers to strike.
Recently, IT security firm Check Point Software Technologies claimed that it had found cybercriminals preying on shoppers on a popular shopping portal owned by China’s Alibaba Group.
“Upon opening the page, the code is executed in the user’s web browser and so bypasses AliExpress’s protection against cross-site scripting attack by using open redirect vulnerability on AliExpress web site,” the Israeli company said.
Theoretically, the same attack could be launched through an email phishing campaign “with barely any indication to the user that anything unusual or untoward is happening”.
A pop-up coupon controlled by hackers will then ask customers to provide their credit card details for a better shopping experience.
According to Check Point, AliExpress managed to fix these vulnerabilities swiftly after being informed about them.
The case highlights the increasingly worrying impact of cybercrime on consumers’ daily lives.
In the UK, retailers are planning to bombard consumers with 40 million texts this season, a sharp rise from from 25 million last year.
Because of this, cybercrime reporting centre Today Action Fraud has warned UK shoppers to avoid clicking on the links sent as they might be sent by criminals hoping to steal information.
Preventive steps to take against cybercrime and fraud
Mr Horan says there are a few ways to keep vigilant and be on the alert. These include avoiding odd-looking ATMs and making sure no one is lingering near the ATM when you conduct a transaction.
If the card does not enter a machine smoothly, something could also be amiss and you’ll be better off trying a different machine instead.
On top of that, ATM users should not engage in conversations with others when using an ATM.
In the event that a card becomes captured inside of an ATM, there could be a possibility that a criminal had staged the capture and plans to retrieve the card at a later time. When a card is captured, you should call your card issuer immediately to report the incident.
If you use a credit or debit card, you should also check your monthly statement for irregularities and ensure the issuer or bank has your most updated information.
Victims of unauthorised card use should immediately report the case with their card issuer and ask for a new number and PIN.
You can also activate the notification service to alert you of any unauthorised transactions on your card.