Online shopping just got easier for fraudsters

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Shoppers are expected to spend $16 billion online this year, despite more than one million incidences of credit card fraud reported in Australia last year.

A study by corporate advisory firm PwC reveals that the online shopping sector is growing at more than six times the pace of the overall retail sector, with more than half of Australia’s adult population joining the online shopping revolution. Growth is being driven by more manufacturers selling direct to customers online, the continuing growth of shopping on mobile devices, and the entry of new online retailers.   

Just this week, a new player announced its intention to enter the Aussie market offering consumers access to more than 250,000 products primarily from high profile international brands which don’t ship to Australia. says its “concierge platform” will bring together products from global shopping brands including US chain Walmart, British high-street retailer Dorothy Perkins and Italian luxury line Forzieri, and deliver to Australian consumers in partnership with Australia Post.

“Anything that is giving Australian consumers more value, more choice, more efficiency is a good thing,” said Matt Levy, head of campaigns at Choice.

But as Australians migrate online, there are growing concerns about safety.

Fraud bill hits $278m

The Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA) reports that credit card fraud incidences surpassed one million in 2011 with total losses reaching a record $278 million last year. According to APCA, this largely reflected an increase in online shopping activity.

In particular “card not present” (CNP) transactions – those made when the customer is not face-to-face with the retailer, such as when shopping online, accounted for almost three quarters of total scheme card fraud, of which more than half of the fraud occurred overseas.

Chris Hamilton, chief executive of APCA, said tackling CNP fraud requires effort from everyone, from the retailer, through to financial institutions and card schemes, and in the end from the consumer.

“We need Australians to know that tools to help protect against CNP fraud are readily available today. If you are a retailer selling online or a consumer shopping online, you need to be using these tools as well as other practical measures to stay safe online,” he said.

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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