Visa to shoppers: Watch out for holiday fraudsters

Visa to shoppers: Watch out for holiday fraudsters
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SCAMS are expected to increase during the holiday season, according to digital payment firm Visa Inc.

Visa’s latest Holiday Edition Threats Report released on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023, said popular fraud tactics are expected between November 2023 and January 2024 due to the rapid increase in e-commerce activities and in-person spending across the retail and hospitality segments.

“Crooks prepare all year for the holiday shopping season, taking advantage of increased activity and consumers who let their guard down searching for the perfect gift,” said Jeff Navarro, Visa’s country manager for the Philippines.

Navarro encouraged consumers to stay alert during this season and to think about where they are shopping and who they are sharing their information with to keep it safe.

Visa reported that threat actors tend to target consumers during the holiday season through digital skimming, phishing and social engineering, ATM (automated teller machines) / POS (point-of-sale) skimming, OTP (one-time password) bypass and provisioning fraud, and physical theft.

For phishing and social engineering, Visa warned that the advancement of artificial intelligence has enabled fraudsters to create highly customized phishing campaigns, making it harder for consumers to spot fakes. Fraudsters also create phishing websites, often using malvertising (malicious advertising) and other illicit search engine optimization (SEO) tactics on retail or service websites to entice victims.

For OTP bypass and provisioning fraud, Visa said one-time-passcode (OTP) bypass schemes are used to gain access to cardholders’ accounts. In these schemes, OTP templates are sent to the victims that appear to be associated with desired purchase.

According to its data, top merchant categories targeted by fraudsters in 2022 experienced a holiday fraud rate that was 11 percent higher than the non-holiday fraud rate, and an eight percent increase from the 2021 holiday fraud rate.

Top merchant categories include home improvement and su­pply, tele­communications, business-­to­-­business, healthcare, automotive, entertainment, education and govern­ment, lodging, insurance, airlines, and drug stores and pharmacies.

For scam-free holiday shopping, consumers are encouraged to practice good security hygiene. Visa advised shoppers to double-check the reputation and authenticity of retailers, secure personal information, avoid using public Wifi for shopping, and be cautious of deals that are too good to be true.

Navarro said Visa has partnered with the government and clients to protect customers through digital and fraud awareness.

Over the past five years, Visa has invested more than US$10 billion in technology, including to reduce fraud and increase network security. In the first six months of this year, Visa helped block $30 billion in fraud, preventing many from ever knowing they were at risk of a potentially fraudulent transaction, it said.


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