The perils of credit card skimming fraud

Two years ago while travelling in the United States I received an email from my Australian bank asking me about suspicious charges that had be made on my credit card. Once calling the bank I was asked to confirm if I had spent over $3000 in a Walmart store in country USA. Three items were charged to my credit card, all within minutes of each other, in one store. This was immediately flagged by my bank because it wasn't consistent with my typical spending habits.

When I confirmed that I had not made these purchases and it was clear my card had been skimmed, my credit card was cancelled and a replacement arranged. This was an inconvenience I never considered I would be facing on my dream holiday. Luckily for me, the bank picked it up before the criminals continued on their spending spree but it certainly showed that you have to be vigilant, especially when travelling outside your own country.

More and more Australians are being targeted by crime gangs that use credit card skimming to steal identities and card details. Millions of dollars each year are stolen from credit card skimming and Australians are warned to be wary of ATM and Eftpos machines when making transactions. There are several ways credit card skimming is achieved by criminals including using scanners to swipe your details from your card in your pocket and strips inserted into Eftpos and ATM machines.

Spot skimming fraud

In store: Suspicion should be raised if a shop assistant disappears out of sight with your card, swipes your card through a different machine than the one you used or asks you to swipe your card through more than one machine. 

ATMs: If the ATM you are using looks abnormal or appears to have an extra device attached do not use the machine and report it the bank and Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Transaction record: Keep an eye out for unusual transactions as this is the easiest way to determine if someone has skimmed your card.

Prevent credit card skimming theft by:

  • Regularly changing your PIN
  • Keep track of your transactions and check your receipts and statements
  • Don't write down or share your PIN number with anyone
  • Avoid using your credit cards at smaller outlets such as fast food outlets and convenient stores.

Financial institutions have security measures in place to help prevent you from fraud but it always pays to be cautious and know what to look out for.

To compare credit card security features, insurance and rates use RateCity's credit card comparison tool, which compares over 200 Australian credit cards.

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