Credit card fraud

Yep. It can happen to the most careful of us all. Credit card fraud is not new, and will never really end. As users who enjoy it’s many conveniences, we’ve just got to become more savvy about how we use them. And when we say savvy, we also mean clever and responsible.

What’s credit card fraud anyway?

You probably don’t need us to elaborate too much, but of course we’re talking about when your credit card is used without your permission. It's crazy to think that it’s even possible. I mean, you wouldn’t go up to a lady, quietly sitting at a cafe, minding her own business, reading her book and casually take her wallet she’s not looking would you? No. It’s her property and she has every right to keep it that way.

So what gives fraudsters the right to our credit card information and personal details while we’re quietly going about our business? The Australian Crime Commission's (ACC) have identified a few different ways that crims take advantage of the unguarded and vulnerable. You can read further on this here.

Top 3 ways to help you make your credit card as safe as possible

With credit card fraud rife around the globe, it’s not surprising that there is a greater push than ever to move away from them as a payment method. One day we’ll be paying for goods and services with the tap of our smart phones and watches instead, eliminating both the need for both cash and credit cards. But there’s no telling when that will be, so in the meantime, below are some tips toward protecting your credit card as best as you can.

1. Online safety

Mozo can’t stress to you enough how important it is to download the right software and updates necessary to bring your smart devices and PCs up to speed with transacting online. If you don’t take the necessary steps to protecting your devices, you can virtually kiss your personal privacy and protection of your bank accounts goodbye.

How do can I protect my devices better?

If you want the convenience of shopping and banking online from the comfort of your own home or office, then you’ll need to download:

  • anti-malware/virus software
  • the latest software suitable for your PC or smart device.

If you’re not sure what to do, then ask a professional. If your computer is too old to support the updates, you may need to consider buying a new computer! If this is not within budget just now, then you really need to avoid using your credit card online. An alternative safe way of paying is with Paypal, so think about setting up an account if you don’t already have one. Bear in mind, not every online store has Paypal as a payment method.

Online tip 101:

Buying something online? Answering an online questionnaire or entering a competition online? Don’t even think about entering your personal information online unless the website is living within a safe page. How can you tell?

  • Always look for the ‘padlock’ symbol usually located in front of the url.
  • Another way to identify the safety of the site you’re on is if the url starts with https:// Think of the ‘s’ as standing for ‘safety’. So if there’s no ‘s’, then close the page and browse elsewhere.
  • Avoid using public WIFI for making online purchases or banking. Even filling out a form or signing up to a newsletter can be risky. There are professional crims out there who set up WIFI availability to lure people into using their network so that they can get full access to your online activity, emails and files. It’s best to stick to your own private mobile network when browsing online in a public space.

2. Complicate your password or PIN

Let’s just say the more interesting your password or PIN the more difficult it is for fraudsters to guess or ‘work out’. So if you’ve been in their sights for a while, and they have knowledge of your birthdate, the birthdate for your children and that of your partner's, chances are that if you use these or even a combination of these then if may be possible to eventually work it out.

So the best kind of password or PIN avoids all familiar pieces of your personal puzzle and is something a little more obscure. If permitted, use a combination of capital letters, symbols, numbers and letters is ideal. Also, changing your password every couple of months will really confuse them, so why not? Don’t be predictable!

When changing passwords, some people choose one that’s symbolic to what’s happening to their lives at that particular time. So if they're saving for a holiday, they may update the passwords for various accounts and credit cards to: $$4haWaii

Password tip 101:

It’s so tempting to allow the regular site you visit to ‘save’ your password, right? But unfortunately the microseconds you may save may not be worth it in the end. The safest practise when visiting your favourite online sites, be it a financial institution or a clothing store, you’re better off signing in manually rather than opting for the express option. After all, you never know when or if prying eyes are watching.

3. Always in your sight

Have you heard in recent months the Australian cafe owner ripping off some of their customer’s credit cards when processing them? Worse still, they would record the number and process the credit cards multiple times over unbeknownst to them for quite some time. That’s why your credit card must:

  • always be in your sight. These days eftpos machines are portable and aren’t restricted by short cords hiding underneath benches.
  • never pay for goods or services over the phone. If a business insists in a deposit or payment placed over the phone, ask if you can make a direct deposit into their account, send a cheque or go in person.

How to avoid being scammed: Phishing vs Skimming vs Hacking

These are just some of the ways criminals attempt to scam unsuspecting individuals. There’s really not one worse than the other, but there are some ways you can be better prepared if it does happen to you. We briefly look into three of them to help you understand what they are and hopefully better equip you with tips on detecting suspicious activity in your bank account or even way before.


What is it?

When fraudsters try to trick you into giving them your personal information in an email or over the phone. Otherwise known as a hoax.

What are some warning signs?

If you’ve received a letter, email or text claiming that you’ve won a cash prize, then that’s great news! But if you receive this information and you don’t recall entering a competition for the company they’re claiming to be from and they ALSO ask you to tell them your bank account details so that they can send you the prize, then that’s bad news.

Other ways fraudsters will try and extract sensitive information from you is by sending you an email usually claiming to be from the Apple Team or your bank. They will have either the correct logos to make you feel safe and trust the email. They usually suggest that your credit card or password will expire shortly and to rectify it in time that may ask you to fill out a form online, reply to the email with your credit card details/email or offer a link that takes you to a website they’ve built that mimics the company they are claiming to be from where they will ask you to update your details there.

How to keep yourself safe from phishing?

  • Never offer your credit card details or password in an email or over the phone.
  • Your bank or other companies that hold your sensitive information will NEVER ask you to verify your account details over an email. They are also unlikely to offer you a website link to click onto. The safest way to update your information is to type in the site yourself, not click a link. Call to verify the email if you’re not certain.
  • If Apple or your bank is writing to you, they will most likely address you personally so that the letter is less generic. Keep an eye out for spelling and grammatical errors as well as odd graphics or logos that just seem out of place.


What is it?

When a device has been used to extract information from your credit or debit card usually secretly attached to an ATM. Skimming can also happen if a fraudster is physically near and brushes past you and your wallet with a skimming device hiding in their bag.

What are the warning signs?

If you walk up to an ATM to withdraw money and think it looks tampered with, or something is ‘not quite right’, walk away. Chances are there’s something amiss that you truly want to miss out on! External machines that camouflage and secret cameras that record your pin can be installed mostly going undetected.

Tip: Need to withdraw cash? Your safest bet is to withdraw from an Australia Post teller, your bank teller or from a supermarket at the register.

Someone standing a little close to you in queue? They either don’t understand personal space or are trying to skim your credit card in your back pocket or in your handbag. They don’t have to physically touch your card or wallet either. They’ve got a pretty powerful and nifty device that copies information on the magnetic strip or microchip of your credit card where they can then duplicate the information and make fake copies of your cards or use it for online purchases.

Tip: Store your credit cards in an anti RFID wallet that deflects any skimmers ability to ‘steal’ your information. Or you could wrap your cards in foil. Just saying.


What is it?

When an individual or a team of fraudsters make their way into a system to view and extract a database of people’s sensitive information that’s normally safe every other day.

What are the warning signs?

Similar impact to criminals stealing mail over time containing personal information, hacking is when fraudsters hack into internet service providers, banks or business databases and abuse the sensitive information of their customers they find. This could be anything from names addresses, date of birth, passwords, basically anything to build a file on you the individual.

Over time and with the right information, criminals can steal your identity and apply for bank accounts, credit cards etc under your name. They may even use this information to withdraw money from your own personal bank accounts.

Tip: It’s good to know that leading banks and institutions are constantly updating their online security to ensure safety practises for their customers. For information on how hacking can affect you, visit:

Stay Smart Online

Whatever the scam, you can be certain there’s a serious and organised crime behind it. Stay Smart Online is the Australian Government’s cyber security website designed to help Australians understand online credit card risks and more. For more information on steps to protecting your personal and financial information online visit:

I think I was scammed. What should I do next?

  • Has your credit card been charged once or multiple times from the same company that you don’t remember purchasing from? Call your bank immediately and report the purchase(s). They take these matters seriously no matter how small or large the amount is and should report back to you within 3 business days.
  • Check your credit file with online services like Veda to see if there’ve been unfamiliar credit enquiries made under your name. If yes, request an investigation.
  • Report it to the police. They will judge the severity of the crime and how to handle it from there.
  • Change your pin and passwords, and ask to be issued with a new credit card.

Want to read more about this? Visit government site Money Smart:

Is PayWave and PayPass safe?

Yes and no. It’s not a straightforward question with a straightforward answer. Although the microchips that are now embedded in our credit and debit cards come with the promise that they are using the safest technology to fully encrypt your personal information, the fact that the technology can charge your card from a 4cm distance means that it does not require you to ‘tap and go’ as the popular marketing would suggest. That means that anyone can buy a skimmer online and come within 4cm of your wallet, handbag or back pocket to literally get access to your account. And that’s a worry.

Should you really be worried? Perhaps not just this minute, just remember to take all necessary precautions when using your credit card to pay for goods and services. It’s also a good idea to always know where your card is and never leave it out of your sight.

How to report a scam

Suspicious about unusual activity on your account? Then you need to get to the bottom of it. Even if you’re not sure what’s happened to your account, report it. Let your gut instinct drive the enquiry but also remain open-minded. Afterall, it could be a purchase you simply forgot you made. But don’t rely on that probability!

Always double check with your bank and ask them to make an enquiry on your behalf. Remember, most banks have an enquiry line open 24 hours a day, so if you’re checking your accounts late at night and see an unusual purchase or purchases, then don’t hesitate to them. They’ll get back to you within three business days and you’ll sleep easy knowing that your request will get resolved, no matter what.

Don’t have time to read about credit card fraud right now?

Here’s a snapshot on how to protect your card in 10 seconds.

  • Don’t share your PIN or passwords with anyone. Also avoid storing them on your phone or writing them down.
  • Cover your hand when entering your PIN
  • Don’t disclose your card number over the phone, and especially the security number usually found on the back.
  • Avoid predictable and obvious PIN combinations.
  • Always know where it is. When paying at a retailer, cafe or restaurant follow the staff when they process the payment. Don’t let them wander off with your card.