The Bay Centre - Photo by Rhona McAdam

With the Black Friday shopping weekend now in full swing around Victoria, thousands of holiday shoppers have just gotten into the season—a spending trend that will no doubt roll into the just-as-popular Cyber Monday on November 30.

Although shopping online helps you avoid the crowds and chaos of the malls, it can cause its own set of headaches if you aren’t careful.

Global payments provider ACI reports that one in every 86 “card not present” transactions is now an attempted fraud. So before you rush online to cash in on those Cyber Monday sales, make sure your online security know-how is on par with your ability to find bargains.

A few ideas to get you started:

  1. Consider using a separate credit card for all of your online transactions. You can dial the credit limit down to the amount you need—and setting it to $500 or $1,000 will really limit a fraudster’s ability to make use of your card.
  2. Deal only with well-known online retailers that offer encrypted security and be wary of retailers that want more than just your card number. Nobody needs to know when you were born to sell you a pair of boots, but this type of information can certainly help online criminals to perpetuate fraud.
  3. Where you shop doesn’t just refer to the name of the retailer. Are you lounging at home on your couch or did the shopping bug bite while you were sitting down to a latte at a café? Inputting your credit card information using an unsecured public network is asking for trouble, never mind the fact that some low-tech fraudster may simply be looking over your shoulder as you input sensitive information.
  4. Get into the habit of going online to review your card transactions rather than waiting for your monthly statement to arrive—particularly during high-spending months like December. Card fraud transaction amounts are often small at first as a test to see if anyone notices before moving on to much larger sums.
  5. Select a card provider that offers a real-time fraud detection monitoring system is equally important. It’s likely they’ll contact you to confirm a suspicious purchase before you even know your card has been compromised.