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Have you avoided purchasing items online out of fear of identity theft and credit card fraud?

According to a 2010 report from the US Better Business Bureau, online identity theft is less severe, is quicker to be detected, and on most occasions the amount of financial damage to the victim of offline identity theft is greater.

Last year only 15% of all credit card fraud was directly attributable to online activity. It’s time to take your head out of the sand.

While the media loves to take any sensational grave and rob it, this is one that has a lot of facts and a touch of reality checking that needs to be applied. In short, 128 bit encryption is FAR more secure than the kid you hand your card to when out for eats.

A cell phone camera shot of your credit card – both sides – is worth 85 cents. A waiter can do well selling 100+ of those a day. Think about that next time you hand it over to them yet repeat “I don’t shop online” like it’s a security mantra.

According to a recent consumer study, almost half of all identity theft occurred when personal information, kept on paper, landed in the wrong hands. Most came from tossed out phone bills, hydro bills and so on. Another large chunk of fraud was attributed to information being volunteered in street or phone surveys, the target is promised a prize.. all they need to do is give up their name, age, phone number and address… in case they win.

Employees of a Staples location in BC were busted just last year, for skimming debit and credit card info (taking a swipe and saving the info for sale later) right at the till.

I was at a golf course a couple years back and nearly passed out when I overhead a woman on her cell phone audibly giving up her credit card number to pay a bill.

How often have you been on your cordless phone, this year alone, repeating personal info to the bank or hydro company to prove it’s you? It’s infinitely easier to monitor a cordless phone than to take control of your ipad.

GRANTED, once credit card info has been obtained, the net is a festoon of easy pickens’ for verifying the card is still active. Any online business deals with issue of orders being placed purely to see if the thing works, but it’s not where the theft originates.

The same Better Business Bureau report indicated those who use online banking and purchasing regularly, are also likely to notice anomalies quicker, making capture and clean up much less hassle.

To let fear mongering force you to avoid the convenience and simplicity of using online shopping, banking and accounting tools is absurd when a bit of knowledge is all you need to make it safe.