This week is National Consumer Fraud Awareness Week, an initiative driven by the ACCC. Fraudulent activity on cards and identity theft is something many people are concerned about so we’ve asked guest blogger, Andrew Carlton from American Express how card holders can protect themselves from credit card fraud. Here’s his top six tips.
Gone are the days we keep loose change handy to buy a carton of milk or a loaf of bread on the way home from work. We’re now a nation of ‘tappers’ – no matter the cost of the transaction we just pull out the card, tap on the contactless terminal, and we’re on our way.
Contactless payments is an innovation that has satisfied Australians’ increasing desire for speed and convenience and with almost all Australian credit and debit cards chipped and requiring a PIN, we’re feeling pretty safe about using our cards for most transactions.
Despite the rapid innovations in payment technology, it’s still important we take precautions when using our cards. The Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA) says credit card fraud continues to rise incrementally year on year, an increase from 46.2 cents to 53.6 cents per $1,000 in the 12 months to 30 June 2014. While incidents of credit card fraud are much smaller thanks to intelligent security systems, you can help too by taking note of these six simple tips.
1. Keep an eye on your card
Keep your cards in a secure location at all times and never let anyone else use them. When you receive a new card, immediately sign the back of it and destroy your old card by cutting it up.
2. Protect your PIN
Never keep your PIN, User IDs or passwords in your wallet, purse, or diary, stored on your mobile phone or recorded in a way that others could understand. A date of birth might be easy for you to remember but it’s an obvious choice for fraudsters; be safe and steer clear of numbers that can be found in your wallet. Prevent others from watching you enter your PIN and be wary of any parties that request your PIN, password or security information. If an American Express representative phones you they will never ask you for this information. We would only ever request your account details and password if you called us.
3. Shop wisely online
When shopping online, only use “secure” web pages. A web page is secure if there is a locked padlock in the lower right-hand corner of your browser, or if the address starts with ‘https’, where the ‘s’ stands for secure. If you use wireless internet access, be sure it’s a secure connection and has up-to-date virus protection.
4. Review your statements regularly
Keep copies of your receipts and compare them to your statement and call your card issuer immediately if you don’t recognise a charge. Destroy any old or unwanted statements – even better, opt for online statements where you can regularly check your transactions. American Express issued Card Members can register for Card Alerts to monitor account activity, with weekly account balance updates by email or text message.
5. Protect yourself from identity theft
Safeguard all of your personal documents, such as your birth certificate, driver’s licence, and bank statements and shred any sensitive information from financial organisations or utility companies when you no longer need it. Review your credit reference report through Australian Credit Bureau Agencies as this may be the earliest way to detect if you’re a potential victim of identity theft.
6. Protect yourself from phishing
Fake emails or websites can try and get you to part with sensitive financial information like log-in details or passwords. Never release your card number, PIN or password to an unknown party. If you’re unsure about the identity of a caller, ask for the caller’s name and department and tell them you will call them back on a published phone number, such as one printed on their statements or on their website. Delete any email you’re not comfortable with and keep your anti-virus software and firewall up-to-date to prevent offenders accessing your details via your computer.
But most importantly…the quicker you report a lost or stolen card, or suspicious activity on your card, the quicker your card issuer can cancel your card and stop unauthorised charges.