Australians spend around $2.7 billion more using their credit cards in December than during the other 11 months of the year. So now, more than ever, cardholders should be taking extra caution against credit card fraud and scams.
The issue is top of mind for many shoppers, according to research from information and analytics provider Veda Advantage, which revealed that around 80 percent of Australians are concerned about identity theft. Yet less than one third of us have implemented ways to protect against falling victim.
Even more staggering is that around half of those surveyed for the study – more than 500 cardholders – had lost their wallet, credit card, debit card or driver's licence in the previous three years, with one quarter claiming to have lost their personal information more than twice!
Queensland Police Service stated that identity crime is the fastest growing type of crime in the world and costs Australians between $1.6 billion and $3 billion each year. One of the major forms of identity theft is through credit cards, with scam artists and thieves gaining access to your personal and private information and then using this against you to:
- Use your details to apply for credit cards or loans under your name.
- Access your credit card account details online as well as your other banking details.
- Purchase goods and services worldwide with your credit card.
- Conduct credit card and debit card skimming.
The ramifications of being a victim to this type of theft not only can leave you feeling exposed, but it can have an impact on your credit history and can leave you in serious debt.
What the banks are doing
Identity theft has had a significant impact on the credit card industry and as a result financial institutions have invested in implementing ways to reduce this type of theft, through some of the following:
- Higher levels of security of online systems and personal details.
- Some financial institutions have set up specialist teams to monitor unusual and suspicious transactions and will call you if they come across a transaction that stands out.
- Using mobile phone SMS messaging to authenticate online transactions.
The steps you can take
Even though most financial institutions have implemented measures to protect you and eliminate fraud, there are a few changes that you can make to further reduce your chances:
- Regularly check your credit card statements for bogus transactions and notify your institution straight away if you come across one.
- Contact your financial institution immediately if your credit card is stolen so they can cancel any further transactions.
- Regularly change your Personal Identification Number (PIN).
- Never keep your PIN on you, especially in your wallet.
- Never give your credit card information to anyone suspicious either online or via the telephone.
- To find out different credit cards' security, compare credit cards online to help find a great deal.
Just remember that these types of people are everywhere so never let your guard down and always be aware of who's watching you at the checkout.