How to protect yourself against online card fraud



The service is used by more than 10,000 merchants and has “tens of millions” of cardholder participants, said Sukhmani Dev, senior vice president of digital products, North America, at Mastercard.

Here are some questions and answers on safe practices when shopping online:

The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips: Buy online with a credit card, and never buy anything from online sellers who only accept payment by gift cards, money transfers, or cryptocurrency. Such payments are almost impossible to trace and reverse, and criminals often tell people to use these methods so they can get money quickly, according to the commission.

Check unfamiliar websites before shopping by searching online for the merchant’s name and the word “complaint” or “scam,” the agency advises, and carefully read the seller’s description of the goods. If the seller offers branded products at significant discounts, the agency said, “They could be fakes.”

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse also recommends ensuring that the website displays a small lock icon, or https, in the payment browser, indicating that transactions are secure. You can also sign up for alerts from your bank or credit card to be notified when purchases are made.

“The American consumer really has to be smart,” said David Mattei, strategic advisor specializing in payment fraud at Aite-Novarica Group. If major retailers are running out of an item, he said, there’s a good chance an online seller you’ve never heard of either won’t. And if a website asks for details like your social security number, he said, “that should be a red flag” that the site isn’t legitimate.

You can, but experts like the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse generally warn against this. Indeed, if the card is compromised, the funds are withdrawn directly from your bank account. Consumer protections are in place, but it may take time to resolve the issue and in the meantime you could lose your money.

“It’s a different feeling to see money disappear from your bank account,” said Odysseas Papadimitriou, managing director of financial website WalletHub.


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