COVID-19 has led to profound shifts and challenges for businesses and consumers. The simple trip to the shop that we all took for granted became impossible, or more difficult, and online shopping was our only option.
Because of this, fraudsters have been able to capitalize on the increased volume of online transactions, causing warnings from government bodies about online scams to be issued regularly. The BBC recently reported that one-in-five people experience some form of online fraud every year. However, the rise in popularity of digital payments during the pandemic dramatically increased the number of affected people. For businesses, these worrying trends have highlighted the importance of having a secure online presence, with reputable payment solutions.
A Changing Data Security Landscape
Not so long ago, data security meant visually recognizing your customer when they presented themselves in person. This visual, along with a quick signature, was enough to allow a person to withdraw money from their accounts and transact. How times have changed!
As fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated, so have data storage mechanisms and payment solutions. A card machine with a card reader and a PIN pad soon replaced the need for a physical signature and brought additional protections for the buyer. On top of that, for businesses, a card reader is far more secure and convenient than carrying cash, and some payment solutions now even offer same day funding on card transactions. This means that the money is in the business’ account within the day– often within an hour.
Securing Customer Data
As a business, the level of data security you have in place is critical in protecting your reputation. You must know what data you hold, how it’s stored, monitor any risks to that data, and do everything you can to protect it. For example, payment solution experts, UTP Group, complete extensive daily fraud checks, to ensure that their customers’ money is kept safe. This extra level of security is unique in the payment solution market.
You must also test your processes with mock cyber-attacks to find any weaknesses and fix them fast because if you don’t see them, then someone with more sinister motives will. You will also want to make sure that you are compliant with the latest data protection regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
You also want to ensure that any partners you work with are trustworthy. For example, make sure that you work with a reputable payment solution that is backed by a prominent bank because risking your reputation just isn’t worth it.
The Rise of Biometrics
Biometrics is the next level of data protection. It uses iris recognition, facial scans, and voice recognition to provide increased data protection for consumers and to make life harder for fraudsters. For many of us, we’ve become used to some of these technologies through our smartphones because it’s so convenient to simply put our face in front of the phone and not have to remember so many passwords. Biometrics is one example of the technological innovation that is at the heart of heart security.
Staying Safe Online as a Consumer
As our banks and businesses are working hard to protect our data, what more can we do as consumers to avoid online scams?
First, only buy from businesses that you know and trust. Look carefully at the web address to make sure you are on an official website for the company. Also look for an icon of a padlock on your web address bar and a web address that starts with “HTTPS.” If the search bar has these features it means that the site has strong encryption, known as secure sockets layer (SSL).
No matter what website you use, you should always give as little information as possible and always use a credible anti-virus software to protect your PC and keep it up to date. You can also check your bank statements regularly and alert your bank about any transactions you do not recognize. Finally, if you use public Wi-Fi, invest in a virtual private network (VPN) software to provide an extra layer of data protection.
If in doubt, do more research. If an offer looks too good to be true, it’s often an online scam, and a simple Google search will usually take you to company reviews, which can help you to make decisions. Be aware that sometimes reviews may be fake; most companies will have a mixture of positive and some negative reviews. If everything looks 100% positive, then you should be a little bit suspicious and more careful giving them your personal information.
Play Your Part
It’s clear that fraudsters will continue to become more sophisticated in their attempts to steal our data and our hard-earned cash, especially now that people have increasingly turned to online transactions. Thankfully, businesses can play their part in protecting consumers by ensuring that they offer the most secure systems to hold and process data. At the same time, consumers can use software to protect themselves and can ask critical questions before parting with their data.
When businesses and consumers both do their part to protect their data, they make life increasingly difficult for scammers. Data security is everyone’s responsibility.