Simple steps to avoid credit card scams

In Australia, credit card fraud is on the rise, costing Australians millions of dollars each year.

Being scammed is stressful, both mentally and financially. Christmas time is stressful enough, and credit cards are frequently used to purchase presents and festive fare. Nobody needs the added strain of dealing with a card scam at this time of the year!

Stay safe from scammers with some savvy credit card strategies.

Credit card scams: the statistics

Australians experienced card fraud of $2.1 billion during 2014-15, more than double the $1 billion in 2010-11, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

In 2014-15, just over one million people experienced card fraud (or 5.9% of the population aged 15 and over), compared with 662,300 in 2010-11 (3.7%).

According to William Milne, Director of the ABS National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics, out of pocket losses in 2014-15 were $84.8 million, even after reimbursements from financial institutions.

Being scammed is stressful

A study by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in the US found that nearly two-thirds of financial fraud victims experienced at least one non-financial cost of fraud, including stress, anxiety, depression and difficulty sleeping.

The Non-Traditional Costs of Financial Fraud study found that severe stress was the most common problem, reported by 50 per cent of survey participants, followed by anxiety (44 percent), difficulty sleeping (38 percent) and depression (35 percent).

Nearly half of victims blamed themselves for the fraud. Almost half incurred indirect costs associated with the fraud, including late fees and legal costs.

The ACCC advises extra caution over the Christmas holiday period, with scammers attempting to cash in on consumers’ generosity and vulnerability, with scams such as fake accommodation, charity and online shopping deals.

Strategies to avoid scams

Here are ASIC’s tips for protecting yourself:

  • Check your bank statements regularly. If you find purchases you can’t account for, report them to your bank
  • Never give your personal, credit card or online account details to a caller on the phone (unless you made the call), or in response to an email (even if the caller or sender appears legitimate and has provided most of your account and address details)
  • Check the details of any company that has contacted you using the phone book or the company’s official website before giving them any of your details
  • Choose passwords that would be difficult to work out, and never tell your PIN to anyone
  • Don’t use computers on public networks such as libraries or cafes for your online banking
  • Ensure you have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on your computer
  • Be wary when installing applications on your phone. Scammers may send you applications designed to download malicious software and steal bank account details

Also, put a lock on your mailbox and shred any documents that contain personal information before disposing of them.

By being proactive, you can be confident you’ve optimised your chances of avoiding card scams this holiday season.

For further information and help

The Department of Human Services Financial Information Service 13 23 00

National Debt Helpline 1800 007 007

ASIC’s MoneySmart

Lifeline 13 11 14

Share this article:
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on Twitter