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Police Warn of "Card Not Present" Fraud

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, many people are making purchases through online retailers or ordering merchandise over the telephone. While these are convenient methods of commerce, would-be scammers are taking advantage of the situation and the Halton Regional Police Service is seeing an increase in credit card fraud where purchases are made without the merchant being able to physically see the credit card used for the purchases. This is referred to as a "card not present transaction".

In a card not present fraud, an unauthorized person illegally obtains a victims credit card number and the associated CVV (Card Verification Value – the three or four digit verification number written on the back of the card). The unauthorized person will then contact a merchant via telephone or place an order through a website using this information then have the merchandise shipped. While credit card companies provide security to customers for the fraudulent use of a credit card, often merchants are not protected for fraudulent card not present transactions and will be left suffering the financial losses incurred from these transactions.

What can consumers do to protect themselves?

-Only make purchases from online retailers that you know and trust.

-When entering credit card information on a webpage, ensure that the webpage is encrypted. An image of a lock will appear next the website address on the web browser.

-Do not provide credit card information over an email as this is not a secure form of transmission.

-Do not provide credit card information over a telephone call that you yourself have not initiated.

-Keep your credit cards in your wallet or secure location where unauthorized persons cannot obtain the information.

-If your credit card is lost or stolen, report it to your credit card issuer immediately. Many credit card companies will allow customers to suspend their credit cards by logging into their customer webpage.

-Consider the use of a reputable third party payment provider for internet based transactions (i.e. PayPal).

-Regularly review account statements to ensure there are no unauthorized charges on your account.

What can merchants do to protect themselves?

-Ensure ordering pages on the merchant website are utilizing encryption technology.

-Consider the use of third party payment providers instead of accepting online credit card information directly (i.e. PayPal).

-If a retailer chooses to accept credit card payment over the phone, ask for the card holders billing address and verify this with the card issuer.

-Delay shipping of telephone based orders until the charge can be verified by the credit card company.

-Be skeptical when the shipping address differs from the customer credit card billing address.

-Be cautious when customers wish to have merchandise shipped to a Post Office box.

-Question orders that are to be shipped out of province. If the same product is available for a similar cost by a local vender in the area where the product is to be shipped, this is a red flag.

-Educate employees on common merchant scams found on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website (

Anyone seeking advice or with information regarding suspected fraudulent transactions can contact the Halton Regional Police – Fraud Intake office at 905-465-8741.​


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