American consumers weren’t the only ones making a shift to e-commerce this season. Criminals also focused their efforts online this year, reflecting both the growing volume of transactions there and the adoption of chip card technology in stores, which has made it tougher to use fraudulent cards in person.
Online holiday shopping increased 16 percent from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, while fraud attempts online grew 31 percent, according to a new report from payments company ACI Worldwide. Criminals were busiest on Christmas Eve, as they took advantage of trends toward gift card use and the ability to order items for in-store pickup.
One in every 97 transaction in 2016 was a fraudulent attempt, an increase from 1 in 109 in 2015. The average price of attempted fraudulent purchases fell slightly to $228. The report draws from data collected from hundreds of millions of transactions facilitated by ACI.
Given the increase in fraud, it’s important for consumers to take a close look at their credit card statements from December. It’s also a good time to request a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com to make sure there hasn’t been any questionable activity, such as the opening of new credit lines.
If you believe you were the victim of identity theft, change all your passwords immediately. Then, let your financial institution know and put a fraud alert on your accounts. Finally, file an identity theft affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission and a report with your local police department.