How to avoid online credit card fraud

Credit card protection and security

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

JEREMY HOBSON: Credit card fraud jumped 62 percent last year. That's according to the electronic payments software company ACI Worldwide. The company says 29 percent of us -- including yours truly -- have been the victim of credit card fraud in the past 5 years.

Let's bring in LA Times Consumer Columnist David Lazarus for more on this. Good morning David.

DAVID LAZARUS: Good morning.

HOBSON: So this is becoming a real problem.

LAZARUS: It's been a big problem for quite some time; the growing use of plastic simply means that there's growing potential for getting ripped off when you use it. You've really got to be smart when you use a credit card.

HOBSON: But why is this happening right now?

LAZARUS: There's a number of reasons. On the one hand, you could say that we don't have sufficient security measures in place here in the United States. For example, in Europe, most of the plastic has chips embedded in, they're smart, they've got encryption, and they basically are able to defend themselves better. We're not quite there yet here in the U.S. Another thing too is simply just the growing use of mobile devices and Wi-Fi. A lot of people are accessing the Internet on-the-go or using unsecured connections, like at Starbucks or something else. And the simple fact is, if you go e-shopping using a Wi-Fi connection, I'm not going to say you're going to get ripped off every time, but the chances of someone seeing what you are doing and walking away with your number are exponentially higher.

HOBSON: Somebody could be watching that number that you're typing into the screen. David, what can people do to make sure that they're not the victims of credit card fraud?

LAZARUS: The first thing is just be smart about it. For example, don't give out your number to anybody who you don't trust. Second of all, be mindful of the whole Wi-Fi phenomenon. If you're having a latte at Starbucks, probably not the best time to go to Amazon.com and go browsing for things. Always use a secure connection when you need it. And finally, there's something called virtual credit cards out there, which hardly anybody seems to know about. But what these are are services offered by banks in which they create a separate number based on the full backing of your normal piece of plastic that has all sorts of encryption and other security attached to it, and then when you go e-shopping, you're not using your normal number, you're using this temporary number. And in some cases, after you do your shopping expedition on the Internet -- poof! -- the new number goes away.

HOBSON: All right, L.A. Times consumer columnist David Lazarus. Thanks so much.

LAZARUS: Poof, I'm gone.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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