THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Cybersecurity Liz Lasher, VP of Fraud, Financial Crime and Cyber Risk Portfolio Marketing at FICO, has published 5 tips on how to avoid fraud during the Holiday sales season, and is inviting Americans to contact her via Twitter with any questions on security.
Reports have indicated an increase in fraud and scam attempts during 2020, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic requiring more of us to shop and interact online. In a recent study, technology firm Pitney Bowes found that 57% of consumers are planning to shop more online this year, while 45% already say they're doing half of their shopping online, nearly three times pre-pandemic levels.
When it comes to different types of fraud, and how they can impact consumers, Liz explains that "When it comes to financial fraud, such as account takeover, banks are on your side. However, prevention is critical, particularly when it comes to identity theft, because the clean-up can be quite difficult and messy, and recovering stolen funds can be a tedious, months-long process."
When it comes to credit card fraud, Liz adds that "Credit card fraud is more quickly resolved, but you may still have to go through the hassle of having transactions declined and filing a fraud claim with your bank or card provider. At the other end of the spectrum, scams, or as the industry calls it 'authorized push payment fraud' can have traumatic, long-term effects. It occurs when you, the consumer, approve a transaction, and you are most often held liable for the payment. In this instance, banks will not always foot the bill for damages."
To help consumers during the holidays, Liz offers five tips:
1) Revisit Password Habits - Liz recommends we consider long passwords, explaining that "it turns out that long passwords are even more important than strong passwords. The length and strength of a password, combined, is the strongest deterrent to a hacker cracking your password with brute-force computing power." Liz also says to use unique passwords for each account, recommending browser-based password managers that "suggest randomized long, strong passwords, and manage them for you."
2) Take Advantage of Authentication Features - Liz suggests using any method of additional authentication that apps or website offer as a second layer of protection. For example, "The easiest type to use is a one-time passcode, which can be texted or emailed to you." Liz also notes you can use facial recognition, or biometric ids for certain banking apps.
3) Use Trusted Payment Methods - There may be lots of new payment apps out there, but Liz reminds us of the need to review our methods of payment, and make sure we only use those that are trusted - if in doubt, use something you're comfortable with like PayPal or ApplePay. Also, "If you're sending cash from your online or mobile banking app, and you need to send money to a new recipient, do a test transaction with a small amount of money and ask that person to confirm they got it."
4) Be Skeptical - Lots of us are getting new e-mails and calls, many of which can appear convincing, especially when related to charitable causes. However it's important to stay skeptical when receiving requests for business, payment or support. Liz suggests this Tip Sheet from the FBI on how to spot a fake charity or disaster cause website.
5) Monitor Your Credit Report - This one may be trickier for Americans living internationally, as you'll have a different credit report based on where you're resident and the type of financial products you use. You'll need one credit report for yourself in the UK, and another for your credit score in the US. Although it's a little more complex, it is important. As Liz explains, "At the very least, periodically reviewing credit reports will help you find out if anything strange or unexpected is happening. Nipping identity theft or credit misuse in the bud could help you avoid losing a few dollars or a large sum of money, as well as well as having to rebuild your credit health."
If you have any questions about cybersecurity, Liz is inviting you to get in contact with her via Twitter - at @LizFightsFraud. Be safe during the Holiday sales.