Fraud rates rise but thieves take less

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With more Australians using the internet to shop – 20 percent more in the past year – you might expect fraudsters to be reaping bigger rewards.

While thieves did rip off more Australians and their debit, credit and charge cards, new research shows they are now stealing far less.

Latest research from the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA) shows that last year more than $270 million was stolen or defrauded via non-cash payment methods, which was down 10 percent on the $301 million stolen in 2011.

That was offset, though, by an increase in the total number of fraudulent cases, involving card not present (CNP) transactions, which increased 8 percent to an all-time high of 1.23 million last year.

Chris Hamilton, chief executive of APCA, said: “The drop in CNP fraud [value] can largely be attributed to an increase in the use of authentication tools such as MasterCard’s SecureCode and Verified by Visa.”

ACPA said there was a 53 percent reduction in counterfeit and skimming fraud. The $27.6 million of losses from this type of fraud was the lowest since 2006.

“Chip card technology and extensive use of PINs is giving us a real chance to stamp out card skimming,” he said.

There was an increase in fraud using lost and stolen cards, however.

“As fraud detection tools become more sophisticated, criminals tend to revert to theft or deceiving consumers to hand over their cards or PINs.”

Tips to protect against card fraud

To ensure you are always protected, follow these simple tips to avoid becoming a victim of debit or credit card fraud:

  • Don’t send your card number via email
  • When shopping online, check the website has an “s” after the http in the address bar. This means the site uses protective encryption technology to relay your information across the internet. Also look for a closed padlock in the address bar
  • Never access a website by clicking on a link in an email
  • Avoid using public computers – for example, internet cafes and libraries – for internet banking
  • Consider using a phishing filter to warn you of suspicious websites
  • If your card is lost or stolen, notify your bank immediately. It can block your card to prevent other people using it. If you're heading overseas, make sure you have the global emergency number
  • Notify your bank when you change address to ensure your bank statements don’t fall in the wrong hands
  • Check your credit card statements regularly, to refute any unauthorised charges.
  • Ask your bank for a PIN on your credit card – PINs are more secure than signatures.

Finally, don’t wait until a fraud occurs to read up about an institution’s fraud prevention and recovery information, instead do this at the time of comparing credit cards and debit cards and before you apply – this information will be easy to find on the individual banks’ websites.

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