Holiday shopping online? Why you need to be extra careful this year

Beth Braverman

As American consumers continue to spend more money online, identity thieves are following suit.

Online credit card fraud attempts are expected to increase 43 percent in the U.S. this year, according to ACI Worldwide, which provides electronic banking and payment services.

The shift reflects both the general growth in online shopping and a transition by criminals who've been thwarted at brick-and-mortar stores thanks to the implementation of more secure pin cards. By way of comparison, online fraud rates shot up nearly 80 percent in the three years after the switch to secure cards in the United Kingdom.

Related: The 20 Most Expensive Shopping Streets in the US

"Fraud is increasing at a rate nearly equal to general retail growth globally — and is exponentially increasing in the U.S., due to a seismic shift from in-store to online activity," ACI Worldwide chief product officer Mike Braatz said in a statement. "And because fraudulent activity is now considered to be an everyday occurrence, consumers and merchants must take every precaution as we head into peak holiday shopping season."

For consumers shopping online, that means using strong, unique passwords for online accounts, never conducting financial transactions on public Wi-Fi, and signing up for text alerts from your credit card about suspicious activity. If a retailer or financial institution notifies you of a data breach and offers credit monitoring, take advantage of it.

Christmas Eve is expected to be the busiest day for online fraud, as criminals take advantage of trends toward gift card use and the ability to order items for in-store pickup.

Now check out the best money-saving online shopping tips below:

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