Friday, April 29, 2011

Cyber Spies: Not Your Typical 007

Purchasing goods and services online is more convenient than ever. Whether you are going to buy a book, a home, musical equipment or if you are booking a flight or a reservation at your favorite resort or restaurant, people are doing all their shopping via the Internet. A credit or debit card is required when shopping online. There are other forms of electronic payments; however, charge cards are the most popular mode of payment that many consumers use in shopping online.

Credit cards allow the cardholder to purchase goods and other services not exceeding a predetermined amount better known as a credit limit. When a customer swipes their card or enters their card information on a secure, online form, several technological wonders occur. Within a matter of seconds, the merchant receives the cardholder’s information; the bank that issued the plastic card pays the merchant for the product or service. At some point, usually within thirty days, the card holder repays the bank on a designated date. All though this sounds easier said than done, unfortunately, many people take advantage of the system in malevolent ways.

Credit card and identity fraud has increased at an alarming rate. This can be accomplished in many ways. Spies have been portrayed as cunning and mysterious. The same applies to cyber spies. A common way cyber spies take advantage of a cardholder is by sending spyware to an unsuspicious Internet consumer. Spyware is a type of malware that can be installed on computers, and which collects small pieces of information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user, and can be difficult to detect. Once a spyware is able to find your personal data about your card, it then transmits it to the distributor of the spyware. Now that the distributor of the spyware has your personal data, they either sell your information to the highest bidder or impersonate you. Now, that the distributor has your information, they can approve themselves as the owner of your account. Then, they can request a new pin number and extra credit cards. At this point, they can purchase items or take out cash advances on your account.

Credit card holders need to always be ultra-conscious of their accounts. Guard your credit card data by making sure you are shopping at legitimate sites who utilize secure servers during the check out process. Install anti-spyware programs on your systems to eliminate potential threats. Don’t just give out your personal information when making purchases at a store or online. It is worth being prepared with all the knowledge and tools necessary to avoid being a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft.

Help protect your customer’s personal data and keep up with the competition by establishing a merchant account to accept credit card payments. You will be glad you did, and so will your customers.

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