What is E-Commerce Fraud?

E-Commerce fraud is when someone steals personal payment information on the Internet. One example is credit card information theft. Most of this type of fraud has been mainly happening online and incidents like these are growing every year. The table below from Statista shows how many billions of U.S. dollars are expected to be lost in the United States by credit card fraud from 2012 to 2018.

The blue area displays CNP data which stands for “card not present.”

This means a payment or purchase was made without having the actual card in your hand. Most of these situations occur online where credit card data is saved on websites. When someone uses a credit card at a store in person, they are usually asked to show identification such as a driver’s license or state ID. Verifying identity online is a lot harder than in person. As long as someone has the card information, they can use that card without proving the identity. Most websites have security questions, however, if someone has stolen your info, they might easily know the answers to those questions. This is why CNP crimes are easier for criminals and why they continue to grow each year. By comparing the CNP data from 2012 with that of 2018, you will see that dollar loss is expected to grow from 2.6 Billion to 6.4 Billion by the end of 2018. That is more than double the amount in billions of dollars lost—a 146% increase in just six years!

How are criminals getting the credit card information of others?

With the increase of e-commerce fraud, criminals have found many ways of getting credit card data from others covertly. One example was mentioned earlier—personal info getting stolen while shopping online. The crooks are able to do this through hacking, when someone is able to find a weakness in computer systems. They use this info to break into someone else’s computer. This is why strong passwords on shopping websites are vital. If someone can guess your password then it is weak and it leaves you wide open to having your data stolen.

Another way that these crooks get your credit card info is through large data breaches. “Large” data breaches happen when criminals steal the private info from the masses all at once. Millions of people can be victims of “theft of information”. This is all over the news now and it is your new reality. You don’t have to like it, just adapt and get on with it. No one is safe. Stolen personal data from hackers cracking into the computer systems of online stores and even debt reporting agencies is normal now. Once your data is out there, it’s at risk. The person who should care most about this is you. That means you have to act. Now. Review your data security after you read this.

Incidents leading to Internet fraud

“Legal” personal data storing and reporting agencies such as Experian, Equifax, and Transunion are global operators with access to many citizens’ financial info and history. Bound in archaic data security, these people cannot and do not provide 100% security of such data. There’s no financial bonding either, so the next mass lawsuit can easily wipe them out. There is no such thing as 100% data security until they start using blockchain tech correctly to protect the user’s data. For example, there was a preventable mass data breach at Equifax in 2017. This crack opened up the personal data of over 143 million Americans. This will feed the fraud frenzy out there for years to come.

As you will see, there are many ways to commit e-commerce and Internet fraud. Luckily, there are some ways that you can keep yourself safe and make it harder for thieves to get your info.

7 Ways You Can Stay Safe from E-Commerce and Internet deceit!

1. Always keep your anti-virus, anti-malware, and firewall software current.

Check this stuff at least once a month. Give it a little time. The word is “nurture”. Antivirus, anti-malware, and firewalls are all security programs for your computer that are designed to keep you and your info safe. Professional Internet fraudsters never (ever) stop looking for ways to crack such programs. This is why you need to make regular updates. This is how we stay ahead of the hackers. To avoid Internet fraud, it is important to have one of each type of these programs installed and up to date on your computer.

2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

A VPN protects you from online spies. Anti-virus, anti-malware, and firewalls protect your computer from hackers who try to install programs on your computer to rob personal information. Whereas a VPN simply masks your identity and your information so that hackers can’t see it at all. This is especially important if you use your laptop on open wifi networks such as at airports, coffee shops, and restaurants. Even with your own private internet connection at home, a VPN is a great idea to make sure that you are not being spied on by criminals. VPNs are not free, but there are plenty of free trials so that you can experiment and understand how they work to protect you. VPNs are very affordable and cost only a few dollars a month.

3. Make sure that the websites that you shop at are real and safe.

There are a lot of fake websites out there designed to look like real ones. Some fake websites even imitate those of real actual websites. eBay is often a target for fake look-alikes. Many people enter these fake websites and use them thinking that they are the real deal. Once they enter their information on these websites, thieves are able to steal the info and shop online with their credit cards. Beware of such fake websites by doing a double check of the website name and SSL connection. Make sure the domain is what you would expect. For example, Ebay.com is the real website, whereas Ebay.net would be a fake.

4. Be very careful when clicking on links through email.

Similar to fake websites, fake emails are also tricks used by online crooks to rob your info. Fin7 is a well-known group of online criminals who are known for using fake emails with links that download malware onto computers to steal data. Fake emails like these are called spear phishing emails. Spear phishing emails use a little bit of a person’s information to make them think that the email is real. For example, a spear phishing email might include your first name, mention the name of a friend or family member. As well contain other private information to make you think that you are communicating with a trusted person. These emails might mention a fake emergency and ask you to send money for help. They might also simply install malware to steal the information they need to take your money.

5. Complete your online shopping in one sitting.

If you take a while to finish your online shopping because of a need to step away from your computer, it is best to close your browser and continue shopping later. Leaving your browser open for a long period of time gives hackers a bigger time window to steal your information. Additionally, if you are shopping online while in a public place and step away from your computer, a passerby might catch a view of your information and steal it right there on the spot. So it is best to get into the habit of completing your online shopping while you are directly in front of your computer and as quickly as you can.

6. Use strong passwords on websites.

Edward Snowden, an American computer professional and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower, says that most people’s passwords are not safe. He said, “For somebody who has a very common 8-character password, it can literally take less than a second for a computer to go through possibilities and pull that password out.” Instead, he suggests creating “passphrases” instead of passwords, because they are longer yet easier to remember. He gave the example of the passphrase “margaretthatcheris110%SEXY.” This passphrase includes an uncommon phrase that not many people would think of and would not be found in a dictionary. Additionally, it includes details such as both lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and a symbol. This kind of password would be near impossible to guess by a computer or person but would be easy for its creator to remember.

It is also best to have different passwords for each website you use.

After all, if a hacker discovers the password to one website, he or she could possibly enter many other websites that you use if they have the same password. Think of your current passwords and ask yourself the following questions: Are my passwords shorter than eight characters? Could my password be found in a dictionary? Do I have more than one website with the same password? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then it would be wise to create new passwords for all of the websites you belong to.

7. Become less dependent on online activities.

Each year it has become easier for our lives to be virtual. That is, more and more activities can be done online that used to require being done in person. We can talk with friends and family across the world, shop, exercise, take classes, order food, call a taxi, and buy groceries all online. Even the purchase of alcohol can be ordered online and delivered to your doorstep. The more activities we do online, the more our information is stored online which increases the exposure to one kind of Internet fraud or another.

E-commerce/online shopping is great and makes life a lot more convenient, but until the trend in e-commerce fraud drops, it would be wise to make the effort to continue doing as many activities in person as possible. Think of it as real-world interactivity. Essential for balance in your life. This small step can reduce the chances of your data being stolen. This is just how Internet fraud is. It’s not just E-commerce but a single window into the fraud frenzy we live in today. Is the day coming when the Internet fraud virus will eat AI (artificial intelligence) whole? Then the Internet through fraud will have become too dangerous to use without special skills.

Protection, prevention, and education

The growth of Internet fraud via e-commerce fraud currently shows no signs of slowing down. This means that we must do everything we can to remain educated on the subject so that we can stay safe. Protecting your online data takes direct effort. This does not mean that it is hard to do. Simply following the advice in this article can go a long way in protecting you online. If you want to ramp up your fraud prevention know how and fraud awareness, there is one fraud prevention course will deliver on all this – and much more. If you are concerned about fighting fraud, this is a great starting point and adds value to your life at several levels.

In reality, nothing is 100% safe.

Think about fraud prevention like a seat belt. A seat belt is for your protection, but using one does not guarantee that you will not be hurt if you were involved in an accident. Seat belts have, however, been proven to hugely reduce the risk of death or serious injury and that is why we use them. The same is true with our online protection from all fraud. There are tools and educational information out there to protect you. You just have to make the choice to use them.

-TW

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