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Report: Card scams cost Aussies $170 million last year

By Vanessa Tripodi

Just as technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, so too do the skills of those willing to take advantage of it. So while additions to our credit cards, such as chips and PINs, are designed to make us feel safer, fraudsters are inevitably finding new ways to outsmart them.


That, at least, is the conclusion of the Australian Crime Commission, which has released three reports between 2008 and 2011 on organised crime in Australia. The commission's goal is to educate the public, government and law enforcement on the behaviours, potential threats and preventative measures that can be taken to protect the country from ever-evolving scammers.

This year's 2011 report is the most comprehensive of its kind, revealing the deep impact that organised crime has had on Australia. Among the commission's findings:

  • Credit card and debit card fraud have tripled in Australia in the last three years.
  • Australians were scammed over 657,000 times in 2010.
  • Card scams cost Australians $170 million last year. In 2010, 593,819 fraudulent credit card transactions occurred, scamming Aussies out of a whopping $145,854,208. Compare that to 2006 when just 241,062 fraudulent transactions occurred, at a cost of $85,215,615. In addition, Aussies lost $24,471,348 to debit card fraud in 2010 as a result of 63,894 fraudulent transactions.
  • The profitability of credit card scams in Australia has attracted organised crime gangs from Romania, South East Asia and Sri Lanka --  many of whom are already involved in credit card skimming.
  • Organised crime gangs are now targeting superannuation funds, assisted by crooked fund managers. In one scheme, 121 clients were affected, and more than $685,000 was moved to the Philippines and Pacific Island nations through low value funds transfers.

The Australian Crime Commission also released several warnings about the likely future of credit card fraud in Australia, including:

  • When chip and PIN technology becomes compulsory in Australia in 2013, the prevalence of card-not-present fraud is expected to increase as more fraudsters turn to online, phone or mail mediums to use fraudulently obtained credit card details.
  • Credit card skimming is now one of the main ways your identity can be stolen and is perpetrated by a skimming device attached to an ATM, or a handheld device. Therefore, check any ATM you use for unusual protrusions, and don't let your card out of your sight when you pay at a restaurant or for taxi fare.
  • There are large scale identity fraud factories that produce identities to order from skimmed credit card details and send the details instantly to other countries.
  • Using a Wi-Fi connection can make it easier for fraudsters to steal your personal information. However, using a high speed internet connection makes it more difficult for authorities to track credit card fraudsters. 

The commission advises cardholders to pay close attention to the warnings and prepare for the next generation of credit card fraud schemes. 

Article by Vanessa Tripodi


See related: 4 new credit card features that you should know about; Australian banks expose consumers' credit card info

Published: May 3, 2011

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