Card crime: Australians panic over foreign skimming schemes

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Jack Han reports on how to protect you from the latest credit card skimming fraud.

February 3, 2010

Australia has become the latest country targeted by international credit card skimming schemes because of its lack of protection and exposure to card skimming technology, crime authorities have discovered. The news has sent waves of panic across all credit card users, who are taking drastic measures to ensure that their private information remains safe.

Police have recently announced that a nationwide credit card scam has already stolen $50 million worth of cash in NSW.

So far, every capital city and many regional areas have fallen victim to the card skimming, with retail outlets, convenience stores and fast-food chains being the primary target.

The tampered EFTPOS terminals are able to copy private information stored on the magnetic strip of credit and debit cards. With this information, criminals are able to make withdrawals from Australian accounts while overseas.

Thousands of credit card and bank statements are showing withdrawals of around $1,000, with many customers incurring additional withdrawal fees before the skimming is detected.

As of today, six suspects have been arrested in NSW.

So what are Australians doing to protect their credit cards? Detectives have issued the following tips:

  • Changing your personal identification numbers (PIN) regularly will minimise the risk of someone stealing your PIN and using it overseas successfully.
  • Check store receipts for irregularities – by detecting the skimmed EFTPOS machines as you use them, you can prevent other cards from being skimmed and quickly recover your funds.
  • Check bank statements regularly to make sure your funds have not been stolen.
  • Do not write down PINs – this makes it much easier for criminals to access your account if they already have your card information.

As Australia is a primary target by international crime rings, it is up to every individual credit card user to shop around and make sure their card offers the best protection in the market.

The upside to switching cards is that you could be offered low introductory rates on your new card, with which you can pay off the remainder of your debt quicker.

Don’t let credit card skimming get the better of you. Start comparing features online and call up your card provider today to ask how your card battles fraud.


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