Keeping online payments safe and secure this season

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Hamid Syed

DUBAI — UL, a global safety science company, has advised shoppers and businesses in the UAE to be proactive to keep online payments safe and secure this festive season.

Across the world identity fraud is on the rise, driven by a growth in scams where the physical debit or credit card is not present – such as online or over the phone transactions. A recent study, by globally renowned firm Norton, found that more than 3 million people in the UAE experienced cybercrime in 2017 in (around a third of the population).

With uptake in fraudulent activities on key shopping dates, merchants and consumers need to be mindful of unscrupulous fraudsters who are always looking for new and different ways to get their hands on people’s hard-earned cash.

UL, which has a regional office in Dubai and a state-of-the-art laboratory in Abu Dhabi, has provided a series of top tips for consumers and merchants in the UAE to mitigate risk this holiday period.

They include considering the use of wallet platforms such as Apple Pay and Paypal, as well as registering for bank transaction notifications and regularly reviewing passwords for online accounts.

Merchants should also protect themselves by monitoring sales transactions, as well as asking for the Card Verification Code (CVC) as part of every transaction and keeping software and platforms up to date.

Hamid Syed, vice president and general manager of UL Middle East, said: “This is a busy time of year for online shopping with countless consumers using digital payments to buy gifts for loved ones from companies at home and abroad. At UL we provide trusted and critical security expertise – ensuring that this festive season is one to remember for all the right reasons.”

UL recommends the following for individuals:

• Consider the use of wallet platforms such as Paypal, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay or Visa Check out. Wallet platforms are available for both mobile and desktop devices and increasingly include a new technology called tokenization. Tokenization protects sensitive data on credit card numbers by replacing it with an algorithmically generated number called a “token”.

• Routinely review credit card statements for fraudulent activity. This simple action helps identify and shut down unauthorized use of your credit cards.

• Check to see if your bank allows you to set up transaction alerts or withdrawal notifications when an amount is over a preset limit.

• Pay attention to changes in credit score. Some banks and credit card issuers will alert a customer when your credit score shifts up or down.

• Create unique passwords for online banking, credit and other accounts with sensitive information. Passwords gleaned from one attack are often tested by fraudsters against other accounts with the same password protocols.

• Mix up your choice of security questions. For example, many security challenges include one’s place of birth, an easy question to answer. Use a mix of security questions to help minimize risk.

UL recommends the following for merchants:

• Monitor sales transactions using tools to check IP addresses and filter out countries known for fraudulent activities. Scrutinize inconsistent shipping addresses and billing information before products are mailed.

• The Address Verification System (AVS) can be used to verify the address of the person claiming to own the credit card. AVS compares the numeric portion of the shipping address with the address on file through the credit card company.

• Ask for the Card Verification Code (CVC) as part of every transaction. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) prohibits the storing of CVC, so the chances of virtually obtaining the code are practically zero, making it a smart requirement for most eCommerce and mCommerce sites.

• Keep software and platforms up to date as software vulnerabilities are continuously being found and security patches issued to prevent fraud and protect customers from malware and viruses. — SG


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