Credit card fraud

Fraud involving the misuse of credit or debit cards is a common type of fraud offence. The increasing use of credit cards for every day business and online activities such as shopping and electronic banking has increased the risk of fraud as criminals take advantage of technology to produce counterfeit cards, obtain account details and conduct fraudulent transactions.

How does it happen?

Credit card fraud can occur in a number of ways. It is possible for someone to:

  • Steal your card and make purchases by forging your signature.
  • Use your credit card details to pay for goods or services over the phone or Internet.
  • Trick you into revealing your access codes for your account and then making Internet purchases.
  • Capture your credit card details with hidden devices during an ATM or EFTPOS transaction (ATM credit card skimming) or your PIN number may be seen by someone in the queue (shoulder surfing).
  • Skim your credit cards at retail outlets or restaurants, resulting in a clone card being made and used by a fraudster.

How to protect yourself?

There are steps you can take to minimise the risk of fraud and protect your identity. If you do not, your financial institution may hold you responsible for any losses that occur due to fraudulent transactions. If you have lost your credit card or had it stolen, after contacting your financial institution, you should still contact your local police station to report it.

The following tips will help you to increase the security of your card and account details.

Be aware of general security

  • Keep your card safe and secure at all times.
  • Secure your mail by locking your letter box.
  • Tell your institution as soon as you realise your card has been stolen or lost, or if you think it may have been used without your authorisation.
  • Never lend your card to another person.
  • Sign the back of a new card as soon as you receive it.
  • Consider picking up a new or replacement card in person.

Guard your PINs and passwords

  • Keep your PINs and passwords secret and strictly to yourself.
  • If you have to write down PINs and passwords, disguise them as alternative information. Keep the record in a different place from your credit cards and somewhere where it is not likely to be stolen or lost at the same time as your credit card.
  • Choose PINs and passwords that are hard to guess. Avoid obvious giveaways such as your date of birth, part of your name, address or other things thieves could easily guess if they know you or steal your bag.

Take care with online transactions

  • Do not store Internet banking passwords in an undisguised form on your computer if you use your credit card for goods and services online.
  • Send your credit card details only through secure Internet sites.
  • Be fussy about sending personal details to an online business – question if they are genuinely necessary to use the site.

Check your history

  • Conduct regular checks/reconciliations of your credit/debit card account records.
  • Contact your institution immediately if there are transactions listed that you do not understand or dispute.
  • A contact number should appear on your account statement.

Watch your card when it is out of reach

  • When paying bills at restaurants or other locations, keep your eye on your card at all times.
  • Do not give your card to a waiter and allow it to be taken away.
  • Be wary of employees who swipe your card on more than one card reader.

SUPPORT: For assistance and counselling services please go to ScamNet - Help for Victims. If you need to speak to someone urgently call Lifeline on 13 11 14.