Elicia Dow was relaxing on the couch watching television and scrolling through her phone apps when she felt inspired to check her ANZ banking app.
As her bank balance flashed up on her screen, she was horrified to see thousands of dollars of unauthorised transactions had taken place over the previous five days.
“Over $4000 had been spent at Flight Centre, another $1600 on car hire and there were a series of other transactions for smaller things such as an Optus phone bill and Tiger airways,” she said.
Ms Dow seems to be the least likely victim for credit card fraud. She had one credit card and was careful about where she used it and, when it came to online shopping, she always used the secure checkout, PayPal.
“I rang ANZ in a total flap as this had never happened to me before,” she said.
ANZ advertise a 24/7 anti-fraud protection service which it claims provides around-the-clock credit card security. If it notices unusual activity, it will get in touch with the customers to make sure it is legitimate.
Ms Dow, however, had heard nothing from the bank and when she called to report the fraud, she said the banker didn’t believe her.
“I think I’d know if I walked into Flight Centre and booked a holiday,” she said.
“It shouldn’t have been too hard to track. The bookings will be in someone else’s name.”
Eventually, the banker shut down the card and advised her she would have to pay the whole amount owing, even the transactions under investigation.
“They would have charged me interest on the full amount. That card can max up to $20,000, and you’re paying 18–23 per cent (interest) on the full amount. It’s not a very pleasant interest bill,” she said.
After making a complaint, ANZ eventually credited her for the two biggest transactions so she could cover the bill.
The outstanding amounts trickled back over a six week period.
Ms Dow felt let down by the experience.
“The bank did not contact me once over this whole saga. I had to be the one to find it, I had to ring them up about it initially and follow up another two times to get it sorted out,” she said.
Ms Dow submitted a formal complaint to Shane Elliott, the CEO of ANZ.
A spokeswoman from the ANZ Complaint Resolution Centre responded on his behalf: “All disputed transactions raised have been resolved in your favour. Your feedback letter regarding your overall experience has been passed on to our internal stakeholders for further review.”
Michael Budge has had a much better experience. Like Ms Dow, he’s used credit cards for decades and currently has four.
“I check my statements religiously,” he said.
“If I see something I don’t recognise, I question it immediately.”
The first time he experienced credit card fraud, it was for just over $100 on an American website Xpicturespublishing.
“The name itself sounds dodgy,” Mr Budge said. “At that time, I had never bought anything on the internet. God knows how they got it.”
He called AMEX straight away, and it reversed the charges.
The second incident occurred on his ANZ card. He saw a small transaction of $2.50 for Google AdWords had been debited then reversed. He contacted the bank, and it advised him it was most likely a criminal running a test on his card. ANZ cancelled and replaced his card straight away.
Mr Budge said he was confident in the way the banks handle incidents of fraud.
According to the Australian Payments Network, the value of credit card fraud in Australia in 2019 was $527.8 million.
A staggering 85 per cent of all card fraud is card-not-present (CNP), while lost and stolen, skimming, false application, and counterfeit make up the remainder.
Trish McGinness is an expert on credit card fraud. She is the compliance manager at the Australian Payments Network, the payments industry self-regulatory body.
“The idea that it is some small guy down the road ripping you off is not the case. It is serious, and it is organised,” she said.
There are three main ways these organised criminals can steal your card data:
- Firstly by skimming the data from the magnetic stripe on the back of your card when you swipe it.
- Secondly, by hacking into the portals of online merchants.
- Thirdly, by impersonating online merchants baiting unsuspecting victims into handing over their card details.
Ms McGinness said Australian Payments Network had implemented a new fraud mitigation framework to reduce card-not-present fraud by setting minimum authentication standards in businesses for transactions. She expects to see a drop in CNP fraud at the end of the 2019 financial year, as has been the case overseas.
“Some overseas countries, particularly in Europe, now have strong mechanisms in place. It just means that fraud will simply migrate to countries where there are fewer controls in place,” she said.
Australia is getting smarter at combating cybercrime too.
“There is a lot of liaison between law enforcement and banks,” Ms McGinness said.
“A lot of banks now have fraud detection systems and, working alongside the Australian Financial Crimes exchange, they’re able to identify patterns of behaviour and from that build a profile or a pattern, and they can share that with law enforcement.
“The AFP (Australian Federal Police) and the state police form task forces together too if they recognise patterns of behaviour across different jurisdictions.”
So how do you keep yourself safe in the meantime? Avoid swiping your card at all costs. That way your magnetic strip isn’t able to be read on compromised EFTPOS machines. According to the Australian Payments Network, the card chip has never been breached so stick with tapping or inserting your card. Avoid online merchants that don’t offer secure checkout. If it’s a deal that’s too good to be true, it’s probably is too good to be true. Finally, check your account regularly. The quicker you catch fraud, the sooner you can stop it, saving yourself and businesses from a financial loss.