Seen something that doesn’t quite add up on your card statement?
Seen something that doesn’t quite add up on your card statement?

Cash grab: Thieves target credit cards online

CREDIT card thieves are striking fear into Australian consumers, with new research revealing 42 per cent of plastic users have either had their details stolen or know someone who has.

The survey of 1577 credit card holders by revealed 39 per cent regularly used credit cards to shop online, with 22 per cent saying they'd had more than $1000 stolen from their card and 20 per cent more than $500 stolen.

The size of the problem was alarming, said spokeswoman Abigail Koch.

"It's incredibly high," she said. "More of us are shopping online and spending more money online so thieves are following the money trail. They have become more sophisticated."

Banks had improved when it came to spotting dodgy activity, with 69 per cent of victims finding out about the fraud after being alerted by their lender, compared to just 31 per cent who had found anomalies on their own bank statements. But the thieves' tactics made them hard to identify.

"Often we look for anomalies on larger sums, but thieves are testing the waters by taking small amounts and waiting to see if it's noticed," Ms Koch said. "It's really important you don't rely on the banks to pick it up for you."

Victims often spend lengthy periods without their funds while banks investigate- 25 per cent waited weeks and 14 per cent more than a month to be reimbursed.


"This can put a lot of pressure on the household budget," Ms Koch said, adding there were steps to take to protect your cards from crime.

"Never send bank account details via email or social media and look for the little padlock icon to know you're shopping securely. The site itself should have some reference to security measures, like the little McAfee padlock on the landing page.

"The other option is to set up a separate account for online shopping, with a lower transaction limit. That can help make sure they can't get access to your whole pay cheque … It's a matter of remaining vigilant across all channels."

AusPayNet figures show Australians put $730 billion on plastic last year, which attracts thieves, according to Dr Leila Fourie, chief executive officer of AusPayNet.

"That said, fraud represented less than 1 per cent of (money) spent on cards and that was down slightly on the previous year," Dr Fourie said, adding that while counterfeit and skimming fraud was down 34 per cent from the previous year, online card fraud was up 10 per cent and now represents 82 per cent of all fraud on Australian cards.