Credit card skimming robs 450,000 Australians a year

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Credit card criminals are on the rise. Jack Han reports on how to protect your money from predators.

December 1, 2009

Card skimming and other forms of credit card fraud are on the rise, according to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). With credit card users losing anywhere between a few dollars to thousands every day, consumers are increasingly concerned about the safety of their credit and personal information.

Card skimming is the illegal duplication of information stored on the magnetic strip of a credit or debit card. By stealing your details, criminals are able to access your account, or create fake cards in your name to accrue charges on your account.

An Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report found that 450,000 Australians lost a total of $997 million to credit card and personal fraud in 2007 – that’s an average of $2,215 per person.

The report cited the growth of electronic data-sharing and online transactions as the major factors that have left consumers vulnerable to fraud.

To combat this growing trend, New South Wales legislation has recently created three new offenses to punish the sale of personal information.

Selling or using credit card data, such as trading credit card details on black-market forums, will attract a maximum jail term of 10 years, while possessing such information with the intent to commit a crime will carry a maximum of seven years. Simply possessing scanners and laminators used to create fake IDs could carry a penalty of three years' jail time.

Officials from security organisation ASIO have joined forces with the Federal Police, computer security experts, and the top secret Defence Signals Directorate to combat future cases of credit fraud. However, the best defence against fraud is protecting your security PIN numbers and other personal information.

While officials handle these cyber terrorists, there are also a few things you can do to protect you and your family from the growing threat.

  • Firstly, avoid online shopping or net banking on communal computers such as in libraries and internet cafes. There can be settings installed to save your passwords and user information.
  • Buying or making simple covers for your credit cards and bank cards will ensure that everyday criminals cannot scan or take photos of your card numbers while you use them.
  • Using cash to make purchases where security is low is also a smart move. Many fraud cases originate in small service stations or shops, where there is no one to monitor suspicious criminal activity.

There’s no such thing as being too careful when your personal information is at stake. Do your share of work to protect your household, and compare credit cards to ensure that they offer the highest security measures available on the market.


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