Are my credit card details safe? A credit card security check

padlock and cloud and wifi signal indicating lack of credit card security following Optus hack

With all the recent panic surrounding the Optus hack, we’re all feeling hyper alert about our data security right now. 

Though credit card information wasn’t the subject of this specific cyber crime, it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little uncomfortable around the safety of your personal information. In fact, with 1 in 9 Australians falling victim to personal fraud, your concern is warranted!

Even though our cultural obsession with scammers has resulted in some compelling television - if you haven’t already, check out The Dropout on Disney+ - it’s taken a serious toll on our wallets. Reporting from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) shows us that scams cost Australia roughly $2 billion dollars in 2021. 

Of those $2 billion, $227 million were lost to payment redirection scams. Most frequently complained of to Scamwatch included some major card related schemes: there were 93,000 complaints of phishing scams, 21,000 reports of false billing, and 20,000 submissions of online shopping scams.

Are my credit card details safe?

Thankfully, credit card information was not a part of the information reported to be leaked during this most recent Optus hack. For information you may be concerned about, look at whether or not you need to change your licence or medicare card, and be aware of other data that may have been leaked.

In most instances where your credit card has been involved in major suspicious activity, this will be flagged by your bank. This is why it’s so important to let your bank know when you’re travelling overseas - you don’t want them thinking that the big purchase in pesos is fraudulent!

However, there are sophisticated scams that banks may not pick up, especially in cases of card-not-present fraud and fraudulent applications. 

If you go over your credit card statements and can match up each line to a purchase you’ve made, you can be relatively certain that your credit card information is secure right now.

Keep an eye on those credit card statements, and make sure to flag any unusual looking transactions. Two netflix subscriptions? Something definitely isn’t right there.

Another thing to keep an eye out for is a sudden drop to your credit score

Much concern around the Optus hack related to the leaking of personal identification, enabling people to potentially apply for credit cards or personal loans fraudulently. This could impact long term borrowing ability. Those who are most at risk from this specific cyber attack will have been contacted by Optus regarding a free subscription to a credit monitoring service.

The Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA) recommends a holistic approach to protecting your credit, especially to those who have been impacted by the Optus hack. No one solution operates in isolation, and their credit education resource Creditsmart advocates for both implementing short term credit bans and long term credit alerts if you are concerned.

In general though, a sudden drop to your credit score is never a good thing. If you notice this, it could definitely warrant an investigation into whether or not you have been the victim of a form of fraud.

How do I keep my credit card secure?

Hopefully you’re feeling a little more at ease regarding your personal credit card security. However, it’s important to take steps to make sure you’re maintaining that security.

According to data from the Australian Payments Network, the majority of scam victims (39%) don’t know how their credit card details were compromised. Those that did know cited the internet (33%), copy during use (15%), and in person theft (5.8%) - with the remainder consisting of phone calls, text messages, and post.

We have pulled together a few tips to get you started with keeping your credit card information safe.

  • Check your statements - As mentioned, this is going to be your first sign that something is awry. Go over your statements each month to make sure you recognise all of the transactions.
  • Check that any payment site is secure - Look for the locked padlock symbol next to the url at the top of the page, and an address starting with “https” as two major indicators of security. Along with this, customer reviews of uncertain websites are a great way to check if you can trust a new site.
  • Use a trusted third party payment provider - Keep your information protected with a trusted third party like Apple Pay or PayPal, preventing sites with security weak spots from directly accessing your information.
  • Don’t give information to sources you can't trust - This goes for emails from slightly different addresses or emails from your usual provider with unusually bad spelling. No clicking on those links or responding with personal information! It also means those strange text messages telling you that you have a package waiting without specific information, or calls from bizarre locations.
  • Turn on two factor authentication - Ensure all major services have two factor authentication switched on, meaning that no one can authorise your identity without also having access to your phone, even if they have your card details.

Luckily, most credit card fraud gets reported. So if you’re spooked, stay vigilant, but don’t live in fear - follow these credit card safety steps and stay ahead of the game. 

If you do find yourself a victim of a credit card scam, report it to Scamwatch. Considering a switch up to your wallet? Check out some highlights with Mozo’s best credit cards.