Consumers Concerned About Holiday Shopping Season Fraud

Consumers Concerned About Holiday Shopping Season Fraud

65% believe purchases will put them at higher risk
A woman shops for the holidays online

While fraudsters can wreak havoc year-round, a new survey suggests consumers are particularly concerned about becoming a victim of fraud during the holiday shopping season.

Cybersecurity firm Terbium Labs surveyed more than 1,000 consumers to learn about their concerns regarding fraud and determine whether they would be taking adequate measures to protect themselves from it. Fraud is top of mind for many of them.

A majority of respondents (66%) said they believe they could easily become a fraud victim, and 65% think their holiday shopping plans will put them at higher risk of being targeted by fraudsters. Consumers deemed the internet to be the riskiest place to shop, with 35% saying they believed their personal and financial information were most vulnerable with online retailers. In comparison, 20% believed their information was most vulnerable at brick-and-mortar stores, while 9% believed their financial institution was the biggest source of risk.

When it comes to the types of fraud that consumers were most concerned with this holiday season, here’s how the results played out:

  • 42% said they were worried about card skimming, which is the use of a device to steal credit card information
  • 26% were concerned about lost or stolen card fraud
  • 20% were worried about phishing scams, in which a fake email is used to get personal information
  • 20% feared card-not-present fraud, in which their name and card number were used to make a purchase

Preventing holiday shopping fraud

Despite consumers’ concerns about fraud, many respondents are more focused on reactive measures than proactive ones, the study found.

The No. 1 fraud protection practice respondents said they would implement was monitoring transactions to spot unauthorized purchases, which 38% of respondents planned to do. That was followed by 13% who said they would set fraud alerts on their bank and credit card accounts, 10% who would check their credit reports regularly and 7% who would use two-factor authentication when buying gifts online. Two-factor authentication is an added security layer for verification purposes.

During the holiday season, consumers tend to use multiple payment methods for gifts. According to the survey:

  • 49% of respondents planned to use two to three debit and credit cards
  • 5% planned to use four to five cards
  • 2% planned to use more than five cards

The use of multiple cards creates a larger number of accounts for which consumers must watch out.

If consumers do, in fact, experience fraud during the holiday season, many already have a good idea of who they would blame. Among survey respondents:

  • 51% said they would blame both their financial institution and the entity that exposed their data
  • 25% said they would only blame the entity that exposed their data
  • 17% said they would only blame their financial institution

Scammers are motivated to try to get as much money out of consumers as they can, so it’s important to stay vigilant throughout the year. If you do find that you have been charged for an unauthorized transaction during the course of your holiday shopping, make sure you know the steps to take to dispute credit card and debit card purchases.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.