This last year has been a record breaking one for the closing of traditional brick and mortar retail stores. Considering that 2018’s projection numbers expected to exceed 2017’s, it is becoming difficult to see how stores like Toys R’ Us and K Mart can possibly survive. Online transaction market places like Amazon and Alibaba continue to pull market share away from traditional retails shops, bringing more customers online to take care of their purchasing needs. Many of the retail stores have responded to the pressure accordingly, causing them to grow their online presence in an attempt to compete with the current giants.
This continued growth of online transactions each year has also bought with it a growth in the number of security threats. Where the upgrade from magnetic strips to the EMV chip in 2015, gave cardholders the increased ability to protect their personal data when making swipe purchases, little has changed in terms of online security to combat the growing statistics. This has caused a shift in fraud activity from physical transaction information grabs, to online ones. Since the card information is being entered onto the site manually by the purchaser, there are many things that could put the data at risk. These threats range from keystroke logging, online scams or any sort of trojan horse virus. These threats are very much present in our every day lives, so what kinds of things can be done to prevent the possibility of becoming a victim to fraud? For more information on payment security, the ETA put together a slide presentation on the current security landscape in the payment space.
First and foremost, it is important to know who you are buying from. You will be giving the merchant you are making the purchase with, some very important and highly sensitive information that could put your identity at risk. Presenting a online transaction from a fake shopping website can be a fast track route to having your identity compromised. Choosing relatively well known sites and ensuring that the old adage of “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is always is in the back of your mind will help you make the right decision when moving forward with your purchase.
In terms of your computer security, using an anti-virus and a secure Wifi connection are additional walls that a potential threat may have to go through to attack your identity. Many times, the bits of information a hacker or scammer needs to be able to threaten your identity are right on your computer. A user visits a website, then either through opening or downloading some sort of link, the threat is carried back to your computer which can create a vulnerability in your system. Additionally, having a diverse set of secure passwords, having a password manager to keep track of all your unique passwords and simply just keeping track of your banking expenses with your saved receipts to compare against them.
One alternative outside of credit cards, which could possibly assist in protecting your security as a consumer, would be PayPal. They act as a go between for consumers and merchants, which in some cases could prove as the difference between being scammed or not. Just like any other industry, there will always be people out there looking to scam and steal from others. The optimistic future comes at the fact that technology is constantly growing and getting better, so will the development of security features for online transactions. Where the EMV chip was developed to ensure the data on the card was protected for physical transactions, so too will there be a security development to protect consumers from online threats in the same manner. Companies are already using things like SSL Encryption and multiple authentication methods to try and secure the link between you and the site.
We live in a heavily information driven world. This may be no truer than for online transactions. Until more safety features are developed to ensure that an online transaction can be completed with little to no concern for security, the burden of security will fall on the consumer. Using some of the tips above, and using your best judgement is the best way to move forward. Stay vigilant folks.