It is hard to believe, but data from the Australian Payments Network shows that credit card fraud in Australia cost $490.1 million in the 2020/21 financial year. That is a staggering increase of 9.2% from the previous financial year and means an estimated 6.9% of Australians aged 15 years and over (1.4 million people) experienced card fraud in 2020-21.

Most of the fraud happened online through card-not-present (CNP) fraud (90.2%), representing a 12% increase from the previous year.

As increasing numbers of Australians opt for the convenience of shopping online, it’s critical for people to be aware of the risks and know how to protect personal information:

Credit card protections:

  • Credit cards already offer zero liability policies that protect against fraudulent charges (so you don’t have to pay for them).
  • Many cards also have fraud-monitoring software that detects suspicious activity.

Types of credit card fraud:

  • Card-not-present fraud – where your card details are used to make online and over-the-phone transactions, where there is no need for a physical card, a PIN or a signature.
  • Counterfeit card fraud – where fraudsters use your credit card data to make a counterfeit card. They can get your data through a method called skimming or can buy it from black markets.
  • Not-received fraud – when someone accesses your card before you do, such as through your letterbox when you’ve applied for a new card.
  • Application fraud – where someone applies for a credit card in your name, using your personal details, and then use it to make purchases and cash advances. This is often linked to identity theft issues, because they need to provide documentation to get a card.

How to protect against fraud when shopping online:

  • Never store credit card details in the browser when prompted.
  • Never enter credit card details on public use computers.
  • Never provide credit card details via email.
  • Only enter credit card details on secure sites, identifiable by a locked padlock in the address bar.
  • Only buy online from retailers you know and trust by reviewing business details and online reviews.
  • Avoid illegitimate websites flaunting deals too good to be true.

How to avoid credit card fraud:

  • Always cover your card when entering your PIN and if you’ve lost your credit card, contact your bank immediately.
  • Regularly review your statement for suspicious transactions – often smaller fraudulent transactions are a test to see if they can move onto bigger ones
  • Use secure websites when shopping online and consider paying through encrypted services (such as PayPal) so you don’t have to share your financial details.
  • Be wary of suspicious emails, text messages and calls – don’t click on links or download attachments and don’t provide your details over the phone.
  • Look out for spelling/grammatical errors, incorrect logos and odd phrasing from something supposedly from your bank.
  • When paying for a bill or buying something, never let your credit card out of your sight in shops and restaurants.

What do you do if you are a victim of fraud?

  • Contact your credit card provider immediately and have your accounts suspended.
  • Information about new methods of identity crime and emerging scams can be found at SCAMWatch— a website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
  • If you would like to report a scam you can complete the SCAMWatch online form or report it via the ReportCyber
  • Reports made to ReportCyber may be referred to police for consideration and possible investigation. If you believe a crime has been committed you should report the scam to ReportCyber.