As the majority of today’s transactions are digital, the potential for theft of your credit card data increases; criminals are raising the stakes as quickly as your banks can come up with ways to thwart them.
In 2018, Australians fell victim to nearly half a billion dollars of credit card fraud - a mind-blowing 76 percent increase from the previous year.
By staying alert and using a little common sense, you can minimise your chances of suffering the same fate. Whether you’re at home or overseas, follow our 6 tips to keep your credit card data safe.
1) Cover the PIN pad at ATMs
Although it may seem obvious, this is a simple thing many people forget to do when they’re in a hurry. This is particularly important when travelling, as people become easy prey for card skimmers and cameras installed inside ATMs. Try choosing an ATM attached to a bank or reputable store rather than a freestanding one, and always use your hand to cover your PIN when you enter it.
2) Be online security savvy
Online hacking is now the biggest form of credit card fraud. Online shopping is so common now that many of us enter our credit card details without giving it a second thought. Take a moment to examine any website before you enter personal information; if it looks dodgy, give it a miss. Check the security of a site by looking for the little padlock icon in the address bar, which should be in the “locked” position. If there is no secure payment option like PayPal, and no apparent security, don't take the risk.
3) Beware of free wifi!
Free wifi is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, particularly when you are travelling. But bear in mind that many public wifi systems are not secure; hackers can easily access your data when you use them. If you're checking your bank account or obtaining other personal information, make sure you use a secure network. If in doubt, try using your mobile phone data as a hot spot for your laptop; the 4G networks from most providers are secure.
4) Keep your card close
When travelling, take two cards maximum, and stash them in separate places so you always have a backup if one goes walkabout. For extra security, opt for a stylish handbag that has pickpocket proof lockable compartments and RFID protection, or a slashproof anti theft travel bag.
It only takes seconds for professional skimmers to scan your card and steal your data. The technology for doing so is scarily efficient and advancing rapidly. If someone takes your card away from you to make a payment (for example, at a restaurant), watch where they go. If in doubt, check your account ASAP after you leave.
5) Manage your private information
Take notice of where your personal details are recorded, and make sure nobody else can access them. If you’re throwing out bank statements or receipts that may have sensitive data, destroy them properly by shredding or burning them.
6) Use RFID blocking accessories
With some credit cards, thieves can use radio frequency identification (RFID) to steal your data, even when it’s still in your bag!
While your credit card data can be stolen both at home and when travelling, when it happens on the road, there’s the added inconvenience of spending precious holiday time on the phone to your bank, and potentially being stuck without money. A bit of knowledge and awareness can help keep your hard-earned money safe!