National Consumer News

Report: Most people are putting their financial information at risk


By Alex Thomas Salder,

According to a new report, 30% of consumers around the world have experienced fraud in the past five years — and a big part of the problem is actually something that can be avoided!

The new ACI Worldwide Global Consumer Fraud Survey, which included more than 6,000 consumers across 20 different countries, looked at unauthorized activity on three types of payment cards: credit, debit and prepaid. Researchers then compared the results to data found in the group’s 2014 benchmark study and found that card fraud is on the rise across the globe.

The harsh reality of fraud around the world

Here’s a look at a few of the survey’s key results:

  • In the last five years, cardholders in Mexico (56%), Brazil (49%) and the U.S. (47%) experienced the highest rates of fraud. (In 2014, the U.A.E, China, India and the U.S. topped the list.)
  • The U.S. is the only country to remain on the top three list both years, which researchers say is “due in part to being a laggard in the roll-out of EMV chip cards, with skimming and data breaches continuing to be security challenges.”
  • 54% of consumers globally exhibit at least one risky behavior—which puts them at higher risk of financial fraud (compared to 50% in 2014).
  • European countries experience less card fraud than countries in the Americas, due to earlier adoption of EMV and other security advancements.

Behaviors that put you at risk

While the report suggests that the not-so-smoothe implementation of EMV (or chip) cards is a big part of the problem in the U.S., the survey also revealed how consumers are putting themselves at risk.

“Card fraud rates are on the rise in the majority of countries included in the survey,” said Ben Knieff, senior research analyst, Aite Group. “The data shows that consumer education and customer service remain a challenge for financial institutions globally, as risky behavior has a direct correlation to experiencing fraud.”

As pointed out in the report, here are some “risky” behaviors that can open you up to fraud:

  • Responding to emails or calls asking for banking or other sensitive information.
  • Keeping the PIN with the card or writing the PIN on the card.
  • Throwing away documents containing account numbers and other sensitive information without shredding them first.
  • Shopping or banking online without taking proper security precautions.
  • Leaving your smartphone unlocked.

How to protect yourself

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to avoiding fraud and identity theft, there are things consumers can do to protect themselves, their money and their personal information.

In addition to avoiding the risky behaviors mentioned above, here are some more ways to protect yourself against fraud:

Debit cards:

  • Only use bank-affiliated ATMs — they offer a higher level of security, which means they’re less likely to be compromised by scammers.
  • On the same note, never use independent ATMs, like those at gas stations or in other less-monitored areas.
  • Cover the keypad when entering your information — a criminal could be watching.
  • Never use a debit card at a gas station pay-at-the-pump machine, online or other places where it’s more likely to be compromised.

All cards and financial accounts:

  • Check your accounts and statements daily: It’s easier to fix fraud when it’s caught early.
  • Report any fraudulent transactions immediately.
  • Don’t pay any bill associated with fraudulent charges.
  • Never access bank accounts or other financial accounts over public Wi-Fi (or any network that is not password-protected).
  • Never give out sensitive information via email, text or a phone call you weren’t expecting. If you think the issue or request is legitimate, contact the company directly.

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