Thursday, 23 August 2012

E-crime and how to protect yourself

While online shopping makes it easier for customers to purchase products from the comfort of their own home, it also makes it easier for individuals to carry out various levels of e-crime. 

According to a study carried out by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), online ecommerce crime has cost the industry more than £204 million in the last 12 months. 

One of the biggest aspects of e-crime is credit card fraud which accounts for £15 million of the £204 million. This is essentially when someone steals your credit card details and then uses those details to purchase a number of different products online. 

Many online stores are taking drastic steps to prevent anyone from being able to carry out fraudulent acts in their store. However, it is costing online sellers £111 million to implement these measures.

What can customers do?

While online retailers are taking steps to prevent e-crime, there are also a number of things that the customers themselves can do to prevent people gaining access to their personal information. Many people will try to scam you out of your details by sending you emails claiming to be your bank and asking for your credit card details. Never ever enter your credit card details through an email. No business or bank would ever ask you to do this. The only people who will do this will be fraudsters. The same goes for telephone calls. Even if your bank rings you up to check up regarding your account, they would never ask for your credit card details. If you are phoning up an ecommerce store to place an order for a product, ask them to send you either a physical copy of the order form for you to complete or to give you the address of a secure web address that you can fill out the information in. 

The key to is to be very vigilant and protective of your details. Only give out your credit card details if you are completely sure that they genuinely are who they claim to be. If a store rings you, take the name of the person you're talking to and ask if you can ring them back shortly. Phone the store back using the number they have on their official website and ask to speak to the person you were previously talking to. If they work there and talk to you then you know they are genuine, if they have no one who works there under that name then you know it was a fraudster and you have saved yourself from losing your credit card details.

When you have finished making an online purchase, delete all of your browsing data from the computer. This will include any login details and passwords, as well as any websites you have been on. This will mean that it will be much harder for people to gain access to your credit cards details through your computer. However, although you have deleted your browsing history, there are still ways to gain access to your details. One of the easiest ways for people to find credit card details is through computers that people have thrown away. They then search the hard drive to find any credit card details that may be on it. If you get a new computer and want to get rid of your old one, take it to a secure and trusted computer recycle centre in your local area. They will thoroughly wipe the hard drive, deleting any old files so that no one can gain access to any of your old credit card details. 

It's not just online or over the phone where people will try to take your credit card details, there are a number of pickpockets and thieves who will look to physically take your credit card off you, then use it to purchase items online. As many pickpockets will target your wallet, keep your credit card in a separate pouch or pocket to your wallet. This will mean that even if a pickpocket does manage to steal your wallet, they will not get your credit card.

The final thing you should do is check your credit card and bank statements thoroughly at the end of each month to see if there are any charges that you didn't make. If you find any anomalies in your charges, contact your credit card company or bank and report it as stolen. This will then mean if anyone tries to use your credit card details in the future they will be unable to use it to make any online purchases. 


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