Credit cards are a convenient, efficient way to make purchases, whether you use them in person, over the phone or online. They’re beneficial specifically for businesses, as they allow for ecommerce options and quicker checkout times in-store. Credit cards are also a very secure form of payment: in Canada, banks and payment card companies have embraced chip-and-PIN technology (which is more secure than traditional magnetic strips) and other advanced fraud prevention strategies that protect consumers and businesses alike.
Even with protections in place, credit card fraud is on the rise in Canada – according to the Canadian Bankers Association, it cost VISA, MasterCard and American Express a total of about $465 million in 2013 alone (almost six percent higher than the previous year).
These major credit cards have protection for businesses that fall victim to credit card fraud. Visa’s Verified by Visa program, for example, which requires customers to enter an additional password when making online purchases, offers businesses protection for up to 70% of fraudulent charges.
However, we all have a part to play in fraud prevention. Protect yourself and your business from scammers with these tips:
Protect your cards: Don’t leave credit cards unattended, even at work or in a hotel room during business trips. Make a list of your credit card numbers and the contact information for their issuers. Store it in a safe place, separate from your purse or wallet. If your card is lost or stolen, report it right away for cancellation.
PIN smarts: When choosing your PIN (Personal Identification Number), don’t pick something obvious like your birthdate. Memorize your PIN and don’t share it. When using your card at a store or ATM, cover the keypad with your body as you enter your PIN.
Guard your info: Beware calls or emails seeking your card number, PIN, expiry date or security number, even if they seem to be from financial institutions—banks and credit card companies don’t do this. Never send anyone your credit card information or any other sensitive info by email—it’s not secure. If your bank or credit card company informs you of a data breach, it’s a good idea to order a credit report from TransUnion or Equifax to ensure no one has hijacked your data. When making an in-person purchase, don’t let your card out of your sight, to prevent a fraudster from skimming or double-swiping it.
Spend safely: Only shop on websites you trust. When you reach the payment step, check that the webpage has “https://” at the beginning of the address, plus a padlock icon beside it or in the lower right corner. This means that your data will be encrypted. If you’re traveling, give your credit card issuers advance notice. Keep receipts for purchases you make with your card, and compare them to your bill.
Pay attention: Review credit card statements regularly to check for unauthorized transactions. If you find any, report them immediately to your card issuer. If you don’t want to keep a credit card, close the account and get a written statement confirming this. Cut up canceled and expired cards. Shred old statements and other documents that contain personal information.
Ask for ID: When making a sale, you can always ask for identification if your customer presents a credit card. Make sure the name and signature on the credit card match what you see on the piece of ID.
Many of these tips might seem like common sense, but it takes some effort to stay vigilant against fraud. To learn about different types of fraud or report an incident, visit the Government of Canada’s Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.