Credit Card Fraud – Are you next?

Matt Richardson

It’s probably happened to you, a member of your family or someone you know. Credit Card fraud is increasing at an alarming rate which is not so surprising given the increase in online shopping.

What is surprising is many innocent people are being ripped off and don’t know this is happening to them. Savvy fraudsters are using continually evolving methods via online technology to illegally access your credit card details. Recently, I read an excellent article from Kate Cowling in the Financial Review Smart Money section which highlighted 10 tips to help safeguard your savings from fraud:

  1. Make your social media account private – Is your date of birth available on your Facebook, Twitter or Linked In account? If yes, this gives fraudsters the ability to falsely confirm your identity over the phone!
  2. Check your bank & credit card statements – this is the most obvious and most overlooked thing you can do. Normally the initial fraud will commence with extremely low extra charges to your account (under $10).
  3. Keep anti-virus software up to date – your personal details are able to be stolen from a retailer or customer database as well as your home PC. You cannot control what your retailer does but you can ensure nothing can be extracted from your home computer.
  4. Shred your personal documents – Believe it or not, fraudsters will go through your unwanted paperwork to get your personal details. To be safe, destroy these documents.
  5. Avoid using unsecured wi-fi – If you open your banking app in a shopping centre or coffee shop via publicly available wi-fi, you may be sharing your details with any savvy hacker in the area.
  6. Hold onto your card – to be safe, you should watch the restaurant staff use your card through their terminal. Don’t let the card out of your sight. Also, there is no reason for vendors to turn over your card to expose the CVV number. If this occurs, it pays to be suspicious.
  7. Keep your bank advised of any change in details you have – from jobs, address, mobile phone numbers, etc. You should also tell the bank if you are going overseas.
  8. Get a free credit report – this will show if there are any accounts opened in your name you were not aware of. These services are available through GetCreditScore or CreditSavvy.
  9. Lock your letterbox – This has happened to a member of our family where a new transaction card was stolen from the letterbox. It took many months to recover around $1,000 which was taken from this bank account.
  10. Change your passwords regularly – This is painful, because we all have so many passwords but it is extremely important. Don’t make your passwords obvious either (eg birthdays!)

All of these points are important, however checking your statements is one thing you can do regularly – especially with our ability to see these online.