Fraudsters target victims using social media

Fraudsters target victims using social media

Social media users are inadvertently giving fraudsters all the information they need to steal their identities and take credit out in their names, new research has revealed.

British data-protection firm, Allow, commissioned a project led by criminologist Professor Martin Gill, in which a convicted fraudster revealed the tricks of the trade.

“The results of our research are frightening,” Allow chief executive, Justin Basini, told British paper The Daily Mail.

“What we’ve discovered is that fraudsters use websites and social media to build detailed profiles of their intended targets, cross-referencing information from one site to another.”

“It’s pretty easy to do. A lot of people give so much information away for free without even thinking about it.”

Using personal details left sometimes unguarded on social media tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – coupled with publicly-accessible information online – criminals are able to make false credit card, loan or overdraft applications and leave their victims saddled with debt.

Researchers also found that as well as using social media sites to get basic information such as names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, fraudsters use these sites to access information about a person’s hobbies and interests, which could give them tips for passwords to hack an email account.

Finance guru Paul Clitheroe said a lot of the newer fraud plays on a person’s naivety online.

“I know that if I get your name and bank account number, which I may get from a legitimate transaction or pinching mail from letterboxes, I will probably find you on Facebook,” he told Money magazine.

“A bit of chatting later I reckon you’ll tell me your maiden name, name of your pet and so on. Statistically this gives me a pretty good chance of knowing your password and I can drain your bank account.”

If you’ve just rushed off to change your passwords, then good on you.

But a recent survey reveals that fewer than half of us ever bother to change our passwords or update anti-virus software.

The Australian SCAN social trend survey found that two-thirds of Australians think it’s unlikely they will be victims of a cyber-attack.

Yet there were more than a million credit card fraud incidents reported in 2011. The Australian Payments Clearing Association reports that total losses were a record $278 million in that time, due largely to growth in online shopping activity.

Banks are credit card providers are making strides in the combat of online fraud, by improving security measures such as MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa. And when fraud occurs, customers are not liable for losses where it is clear they did not contribute to the loss.

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

  • Don’t send your debit or credit 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 credit card provider 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.

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Learn more about credit cards

How do you apply for a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at the bank. Once you’ve compared the current credit card offers, the application process is quick and easy. Before you get your application started, you’ll need to gather your personal information like proof of ID, payslips and bank statements, proof of employment and details of your income, assets and liabilities. To be eligible for a credit card, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen over 18 and earn a minimum of $15,000 each year. Once you’ve applied for a credit card, you should get a response fairly instantly. If your credit card application has been approved, you should receive a welcome pack with your new credit card within 10-15 days.

Should I get a credit card?

Once you've compared credit card interest rates and deals and found the right card for you, the actual process of getting a credit card is quite straightforward. You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at a bank branch. 

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

What should you do if your credit card is compromised?

Credit card fraud is a serious problem. If your credit card is compromised and you’re wondering what to do, here are a few precautionary steps to take.

Contact you credit provider – Get in touch will your credit card provider. If you feel your card has been compromised, you should be able to lock or block it.

Monitor your accounts – Keep an eye on your credit card accounts. Any unauthorised transactions could be a sign your credit card has been compromised.

Check your credit rating – It’s also important to check your credit rating, to ensure you’re not a victim of identity theft or some other financial mischief.

How to make a credit card online

If you’re wondering about how to make a credit card online application, here are some steps to follow:

  • Test the market. Many credit card options are available online. Compare providers by fees, interest and perks to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Complete the application. Once you’ve selected a card, head to the provider’s website and complete the online credit card application form. Forms vary by providers.
  • Provide details. Most cards require you to meet age, residency, income and credit status condition, and you need to provide details like a bank account statement to prove this.
  • Review details. Ensure the information you’ve entered is correct.

What should you do when you lose your credit card?

Losing your credit card is a serious situation, and could land you in financial trouble. Here is a simple guide detailing what to do when you lose your credit card.

Lock you card – Contact your provider and inform them about your lost credit card. From here lock, block or cancel your card.

Keep track of transactions – Look out for unauthorised credit card transactions. Most banks protect against fraudulent transactions.

Address recurring charges – If your card is linked to recurring charges (gym membership, rent, utilities), contact those businesses.

Check credit rate – To ensure you’re not the victim of identity theft, check your credit rating a month or two after you lose your credit card.

How to get a new credit card

To get a new credit card, generally you need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit rating. You don’t need to be an Australian citizen. Usually you can apply online or in person at a branch of the card issuer. You’ll typically have to supply information like:

  • Your income and living costs (e.g. rent/mortgage, loan repayments, living expenses)
  • Your employer’s contact details
  • Details of your assets and any debts you are paying off

How do I apply for a credit card online?

How to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:

  • BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
  • Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
  • In a branch.
  • Via your credit card provider's app.

How to get a credit card for the first time

A credit card can be a useful financial tool, provided you understand the risks and can meet repayment obligations.

If you’re a credit card first-timer, review your options. Think about what kind of credit card would suit your lifestyle, and compare providers by fees, perks and repayments.

Once you’ve selected a card, it’s time to apply. Credit card applications can generally be completed in store, online or over the phone.

When you apply for a credit card for the first time, you must meet age, residency and income requirements. As proof, you must also provide documentation such as bank account statements.

How easy is it to get a credit card?

For most Australians, there are no great barriers to applying for and getting approved for a credit card. Here are some points that a lender will consider when assessing your credit card application.

Credit score: A bad credit score is not the be all and end all of your application, but it may stop you being approved for a higher credit limit. If your credit score is less than perfect, apply for the credit limit that you need, rather than the one you want.

Annual income: Most credit cards have minimum annual income requirements. Make sure you’re applying for a card where you meet the minimum.

Age & residency: You need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia, and most require that you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident. However, there are some credit cards available to temporary residents.

How do you cancel a credit card?

It’s important to cancel your old cards to avoid any additional fees. Unless you’re doing a balance transfer, you’ll need to pay the outstanding balance before you cancel your credit card. If you’ve opted for a card with reward points, make sure you redeem or transfer the points before you close your account. To avoid any bounced payments and save yourself an admin headache, redirect all your direct debits to a new card or account. Once you’ve done all the preparation, call your bank or credit card provider to get the cancellation underway. Once you receive a confirmation letter, destroy your card and make sure the numbers aren’t legible.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

Do you need a credit card to get a loan?

You do not need a credit card to get a loan, but you usually need to have a credit history. Without a credit history, a financial institution cannot assess your ‘credit worthiness’, or your capacity to pay off the loan.

If you don’t have a credit card, your credit history can reflect any record of paying off an asset. Without any credit credit history, you’re limited in the type of loans you can apply for. But you may be able to obtain a secured loan against an asset. For more information on improving your credit score, go here