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Smart Money

Fraud Bust and Steps to Avoid Credit Card Theft

Last updated

Pauline Hatch      

In a speech concerning security, Nicola Rox, Attorney-General of Australia is quoted saying, “We’re no longer just dealing with guards and gates, bombs and bullets when we talk about defending our nation and its secrets. We’re now fairly and squarely working in an online environment. And this has created a whole new dimension of both opportunity and threat”.

Three months later, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) along with 14 other countries took down what could have been the biggest theft of credit card data in Australia’s history.

Joining forces with the Romanian National Police, the AFP underwent a 17-month investigation that led to the detention of 16 Romanian gang members. Purchasing goods worth over $30 million, the gang members got access to 100 small retail outlets where the credit card details of up to 500,00 Australians were stored. The joint operation foiled what had the potential to be a $750 million fraud.

Despite the bust, AFP’s Manager for Cyber Crime Operations, Commander Glen McEwen has said that good policing was only part of the solution, “Credit cards need to be kept in a secure place, ATMs should be checked for any unusual attachments, personal details including PIN numbers should be protected, financial statements should be checked continuously and chip and pin security should be implemented on credit cards when possible.”

And remember, if you didn’t book an overnight stay at a 5-star hotel, get that checked out!

Ways to Avoid Credit Card Fraud

We’ve done our research and these are some of the most simple and most encouraged precautions you should take to avoid credit card fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

  • Keep your credit card safe: Consumers should keep their credit cards safely inside their wallet and purse at all times, and should never leave them loose around their house or in a bag. Making sure that the card is always within reach will make it much less likely that the card is stolen or misplaced.
  • Check ATM machines: It is useful for consumers to check any ATM machines that they use for an attachment on the card reader, also known as a skimming attachment. This attachment will protrude from the normal reader, and should be reasonably obvious to those who are looking carefully, since it will be clearly attached, rather than simply as part of the machine itself. These skimmers are used on many ATM machines to quickly steal credit card details without consumers noticing.
  • Never give out your details: Consumers should never give their credit card details over the phone unless purchasing something from a trusted retailer. A bank will almost never ask for credit card details when they call, and anyone who calls a consumer asking for personal details should be treated with suspicion.
  • Keep you mail safe: Fraudsters will often use mail systems to find new credit cards, pin numbers and other personal information. It is, therefore, important for consumers to make sure they keep all personal mail (especially pin numbers) as safe as possible, and if they are disposing of them, they should be shredded so as to be completely useless to anyone who finds them.
  • Report any questionable charges to the card issuer. The sooner you report a missing credit card, the less likely it is you’ll have to pay of any fraudulent charges made under your name. Have your credit card’s customer service number on speed dial so that you can call them straight away. Better to be safe, than sorry.
  • Be safe online: Shop from secure trusted sites. Look for https:// in the address when you need to enter your card details. Make sure you have up to date virus protection on your commputer. Don’t click on email links from anyone pretending to be your bank, credit card company, or other business who uses your personal information. These links are known as phishing scams, the rats behind this want to trick you into entering your login information on their fake website.
  • Review your billing statements: Unauthorized charges on your credit card are the first indictor of credit card fraud. If you notice a charge you didn’t make, report it! Be vigilant to check your statement in your online banking for any suspicious transactions. Whether it’s $1 or $100, report it so your credit card issuer can note down if it’s been a reoccurring trend and advise you to close your account or not.
  • Check credit report: Consumers should also check their credit report on a regular basis, looking for two things in particular. In relation to fraud, it is important to check for any credit checks that may have been made in their name, since this will generally indicate a fraudulent loan application. A consumer may also want to check their credit report to ensure no mistakes have been made on their report which might damage their credit rating.

Be smart, be safe!

Photo source: Getty images
Pauline

Pauline Hatch

Pauline is a personal finance expert at CreditCard.com.au, with 8 years in money, budgeting and property reporting under her belt. Pauline is passionate about seeing Aussies win by making their money – and their credit cards – work smarter, harder and bigger.

Recently Asked Questions

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Ask Pauline a Question

Hi, I’m a personal finance expert who loves to help you out! I’ll answer your question within a business day. Pinky swear.

We ask for your email so we can respond to you directly. We won’t share your personal data. For more information, see our privacy policy.

Showing one comment (showing the latest 10 Q&As)

J. Law

J. Law

7 February 2013
Nothing will be 100% secure in this technological age, ESPECIALLY digital data. People will always find an exploit or a loophole to get what they want. Biometric identification could be implemented, but i don't know how i feel about having my face on my credit card.

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