As the use of credit cards continues to rise, so too does credit card fraud.
The use of credit cards has risen exponentially in the last decade and, unfortunately, so has credit card fraud. So, how can you avoid being stung by scammers?
One thing that has changed in the last couple of years is how fraudsters are operating.
According to the Australian Payments Clearing Association’s most recent report, the takings from ‘card not present’ fraud – where details are used without any physical contact with the card – rose from $256.5 million to $322.7 million in one year. At the same time, lost/stolen card fraud and ‘skimming’ operations declined.
Nonetheless, diligent card users can stay one step ahead of fraudsters by following these rules:
Be vigilant when shopping online
Online shopping pairs convenience with value, but can also be a great way for hackers to get critical card details, such as your credit card number, expiry date, CCV and passwords. Use secure sites which display a padlock symbol or trusted payment intermediaries, such as PayPal. Never give out your PIN number online.
Ignore most email offers
Our inboxes are often flooded with bargain offers, some of which are perfectly legitimate. However, the risk of fraud puts all email offers under a cloud. Unless they are from a site you trust or can verify by calling the vendor, it’s best to delete and block. Any email that claims you have won something should be treated as especially suspicious.
Beware of wifi
Banking online via a wifi connection can be risky. If the wifi network is unsecured, or if users are inadvertently channelled to a fraudster’s wifi, accounts can be easily hijacked. There have been scenarios where unsuspecting users have logged into a network that actually belonged to a fraudster, rather than, say, the shopping centre or café they intended to log into, and the fraudster then collected all of their data and details. The safest way to avoid this is to do banking and shopping only via secure networks, such as at home.
Change your passwords frequently
In an age of online fraud, using a pet’s name or child’s name as a password for all accounts is no longer safe. It may be annoying, but changing your passwords frequently and using a random collection of letters and numbers could protect you from being compromised online. If you use the same password for everything, you risk enabling the hacker to invade all of your accounts.
Get to know your bank’s fraud protection and response
Banks are aware of the rising risk of credit card fraud and each have different fraud protection software and protocols for when their customers are compromised. Most banks will cover you for fraudulent transactions, provided you act reasonably and report fraud promptly. Where they differ is how quick they are to identify fraud and return your funds. In extreme scenarios, you could be out of pocket for months. If you are dissatisfied with your bank’s fraud response, you could consider switching credit card providers.
Kate Cowling is RateCity’s personal finance editor.
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