How Mastercard makes Christmas shopping safe and secure
Rowell del Fierro, Mastercard country manager

How Mastercard makes Christmas shopping safe and secure

Tanya Lara (Philstar.com) - December 26, 2018 - 3:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — It’s that time of the year when everyone’s busy with year-end deadlines, getting stuck in traffic and rushing to buy Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, it’s a high season for theft too. We say this to remind everyone to be cautious when out holiday shopping. 

The first obvious way to protect yourself is to not bring lots of cash — but what if you have a long list of gifts to buy? Well, there’s a viable and, in fact, safer alternative to paying with cash. 

Mastercard Country Manager Rowell del Fierro says, “Electronic payments offer more security on your purchases than cash. Cards allow you to bypass the risks that come with carrying around cash in crowded areas. Having peace of mind from knowing that your transactions are safe and secure is one gift you can give yourself while you’re busy shopping for others. You also avoid the inconvenience of having to withdraw cash at ATMs.”

And who hasn’t experienced standing in a long line at the ATM — and then the machine suddenly goes offline when it’s almost your turn? I have. And it made me want to pull my hair out! 

Mastercard enables cashless transactions and helps you skip the lines. Released

Rowell points out that going cashless translates to convenience and more time for yourself and family over the holidays. “Mastercard enables you to make your payments and purchases faster through cashless transactions — you spend more time shopping by skipping the need to count your bills or queue for cash at the ATM every time you need to pay. Alternatively, shopping online offers the convenience of delivery right to your doorstep. ” 

Mastercard also has a number of exclusive offers that cardholders can avail of, both in-store and online, in addition to discounts and bonus points from issuing banks. I’m such a points junkie I’m always up-to-date on my bank’s offers, and have in the past used my accumulated points for flights and hotel stays. 

For those traveling for the holidays, you can relax knowing that Mastercard is widely accepted abroad. You don’t have to go through the hassle of changing your cash to the local currency and if you do need cash, you can just withdraw the amount you need at the ATM wherever you are.  

Many cardholders still worry about card fraud and their cards being used for transactions that they did not make, even if their cards never left their wallets. Rowell explains this situation rarely happens with today’s EMV chip-enabled cards. 

Cashless transactions are convenient and frees up more time to spend with family over the holidays. Released

“Before the conversion of magnetic stripe cards to EMV chip-enabled cards, details of cards and cardholders were easily compromised via duplication or skimming (copying the magnetic stripe on a legitimate card and creating fake payment cards from this). The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) mandated all local banks to shift to EMV chip-enabled cards as this is the global standard. Mastercard payment cards — including credit, debit and prepaid — contain EMV chip technology, which makes it much more difficult for the card to be cloned. The traditional magnetic stripe on cards stored static or unchanging data, so if someone manages to copy this data, it can be replicated over and over again. EMV chip technology, on the other hand, creates a unique transaction code every time you use your card for payment. The EMV chip replaces it with a unique dynamic code to authenticate every transaction. This makes it safer, as the transaction code can only be used once, preventing data from being copied as the transaction code changes every time.”

He adds, “Your transactions go through a process that verifies your identity and the card’s authenticity with your bank, then there’s a clearing and settlement phase, which can take up to two days, to make sure that the amount you’re being charged is accurate. All the data gleaned from this process is transactional and is aggregated and anonymous. No personal information is collected or shared.”

Rowell says that Mastercard works with issuing banks to provide additional protection for face-to-face and online transactions. He cites issuing banks’ own security features as an added layer against fraud so you can be confident about your transactions. 

In my case, I use my issuing bank’s app to check each transaction when I’m out shopping (and how much points I’ve accumulated in every statement period). It’s almost become an obsession for me to log on my app and check every day. 

Mastercard works with issuing banks to provide additional security measures so you can be confident about your transactions. Released

The app also lets me lock my card when I’ve misplaced it or suspect it’s been compromised. 

For online transactions, the CVC number on the back of the card is there to protect you from fraud. More importantly cardholders should ask their banks about  Mastercard SecureCode – a facility that allows cardholders to receive a secret password that only the cardholder and their bank knows.  Think of it as a ‘PIN’ for online transactions! 

Some banks also deploy One-Time Password (OTP). It’s a code that’s sent to the phone number you’ve registered with your bank to authenticate your purchases by confirming that it is you making the online transaction. What’s good to note here is how the OTP adds a layer of security since the password can only be used once. 

In addition, the SMS notification alerts you on transactions, allowing you to monitor your card activities and immediately report unauthorized transactions to your issuing bank. This is one security measure that I truly appreciate because it lets me know if someone else ever tries to use my card and I can lock it on my app to stop further transactions, whether made online or physically, and then report it to my bank. They also have a range of built-in safety tools and security features.

“Fraud can come in different forms but the two main categories are the card-present frauds such as skimming, and the other is the card-not-present frauds which are mostly a result of phishing, where cardholders are contacted by someone impersonating credible institutions to obtain personal or financial information. Scammers can obtain information through phone or email. Be wary of connecting your device to public networks, the security of which you aren’t sure of. 

“Everyone has a role to play in protecting themselves from fraud, Mastercard is educating consumers on electronic payments and its benefits over cash. Mastercard also emphasizes the importance of safety and security, what consumers should look out for, and how they can protect themselves and their transactions, whether in store or online. Just as there is risk in our cash being stolen, there is also the risk of having your card stolen outright. In the unfortunate event that your cash gets lost or stolen, it would be almost impossible to recover. Whereas if your card gets lost or stolen, you could immediately call your bank to have the card blocked to prevent any other transaction on your account and request for a card replacement. If you insist on using only your available funds, Rowell advises to use your debit card instead. “It’s essentially ‘plastic cash’ that draws the funds directly from your bank account.”

“In the Philippines, the rate of fraudulent transactions is low. What’s important is for consumers to realize that fraud can happen, how, and what security measures are available to prevent fraud. We all have a part to play in being self-aware and mindful about protecting our own confidential information. 

So now you’re ready for some guerrilla shopping and tick off every single name on your Christmas list. One last important reminder: Let’s always remember to spend responsibly. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Christmas, but that’s not enough reason to spend beyond our means. It’s best to set a budget and monitor your expenses – a sensible spending plan will give you less worries and more enjoyment during the holidays. 

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