It will probably shock you to learn that one-quarter of Australians have experienced credit card fraud. This was one of the key findings of a survey my company CreditCardFinder.com.au recently conducted.
Almost half of the victims had up to $300 fraudulently transacted and a further 25% had more than $1,000 stolen. While it was pleasing that almost everyone said they knew how to handle the situation when fraud occurred, I think the important question is how can we prevent it from happening in the first place?
I believe that credit card fraud is an unfortunate evil on the rise that consumers must battle with. The exponential increase in online shopping has left us even more vulnerable to crafty hackers who want nothing more than to steal card details and money.
There are some simple ways for all of us to become savvier in order to protect ourselves from fraud. Here are my top five tips.
1. Review your statement regularly
Review each and every credit card statement to make sure that your charges match up to what you’ve spent. Inform your bank or credit union immediately if you do notice any suspicious activity when you review your statement. The sooner you inform your bank, the less time these scammers have to abuse your credit card details and the less money they can steal from you.
2. Never click on e-mail links prompting you to ‘check your account’
This is a phishing attack which refers to e-mails that trick people into handing over their personal and banking information. Avoid e-mails that are asking you to update your information as it may be an attempt to steal your personal information.
3. Make sure the website that you use is secure
Always make sure you check the URL/web address of the website you’re on before you enter your personal or credit card details. Some scam websites will alter a letter or two in the web address to trick you into thinking they’re the legitimate source. They can look identical to the original website, but that tiny change in the web address means that it’s a completely different website. You could be buying something from a website that was created solely for stealing your credit card details. There was a famous case a few years ago where scammer imitated a well-known Australian organisation by doing this.
4. Stay alert when using an ATM
Don't let your card get skimmed. This is where someone copies the details from the magnetic strip on your card when you use an ATM. Check your surroundings when using an ATM. Look out for anything unusual such as the card reader and area above the screen. Also use your hand to cover your PIN.
5. Never give your details to untrustworthy sources
It may seem like obvious advice, but handing over even the smallest of personal details can potentially have devastating effects in the wrong hands. If you don’t trust someone completely, don’t give them access to your card or personal details. Even seemingly insignificant details like your birthday or address should be safeguarded. I know someone who deliberately doesn’t give the correct date of birth to many organisations who ask for it, as he says the only ones who really need it are Tax Office, driver’s license and passport.
If you notice any suspicious activity on your credit card, inform your bank immediately. The sooner you inform the bank, the less time scammers have to abuse your credit card details and the less money they can steal. Most banks today are very, very good in dealing with this and respond to their customers immediately. Ultimately, being smart about how you use your card, and taking care of the card physically, will help shield you from fraud.
For further information, please take a look at my website.