By Susannah Christensen
Online and ‘contactless’ card transactions are allegedly to blame for Australia’s new credit fraud high of $2.1-billion.
Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the $1-billion fraud figure from 2011 has more than doubled in the past five years.
“Card-not-present cases” are where Australians are seeing the biggest increases in credit fraud, says Russell Smith, principal criminologist with the Australian Institute of Criminology.
“Online or over-the-phone transaction fraud – when people don’t actually present their card – has increased enormously over the past few years,” he says.
Dr Smith, who deals mainly with fraud and cybercrime, said the introduction of ‘contactless’ cards, like PayPass and PayWave, has also caused fraud costs to increase.
“Although most [contactless] cards have a limit on spending, scammers are using them for multiple transactions.”
Murdoch University study-abroad student Elizabeth Eggimann experienced this fraud firsthand while enjoying Perth’s nightlife last weekend.
Her wallet was stolen with her Commonwealth MasterCard PayPass debit card in it, as well as $300 in cash.
She noticed the pending transactions the next morning, which the bank has since processed as legitimate charges.
Commonly used ‘PayWave’ and ‘PayPass’ MasterCards and Visa Cards are partly to blame for Australia’s credit fraud high.
Although PayPass and PayWave cards give scammers easier and quicker access to money, the more significant fraud is found when there is access to a PIN number.
As a result of the increasing numbers, banks are taking more precautions to avoid physical fraud.
“The PIN is sent separately to the card, and often now people are required to authenticate the card with their mobile phones, which adds an extra layer of security,” says Dr Smith.
The ABS estimates half of fraud victims change their behaviour as a result of the experience.
Even with reimbursements from banks, out-of-pocket losses still total $84.8-milliom Australia-wide.
Dr Smith said banks will usually refund the money quickly unless the cardholder is found negligent in any way.
Contactless card holders are not found negligent for merely owning the card, and Ms Eggimann saw her case of credit fraud as unpreventable.
“Short of chaining my purse to me, I don’t know how this could have been avoided,” says Ms Eggimann.
“I never expected this to happen in Australia.”