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Credit Card Fraud on the Rise

published  First Published: 04/01/2010
Article written by: Darryl Houston
ID fraud in Australia was up at least 23 per cent in 2009 compared with a year ago
ē¬†Credit card skimming hits 1.5 million people
ē¬†1.2 million have bank accounts accessed
ē¬†Many¬†unaware of Credit Defaults on their Credit¬†File
The identity crimes report, conducted by Galaxy Research, found more than 1.5 million people's credit cards had been skimmed and 1.2 million people's bank accounts were illegally accessed.
Many more people's mail containing PINs and other information that can be used to create a false identity was stolen.
ID fraud in Australia is up at least 23 per cent this year compared with a year ago and experts believe it is because Australia has been slow in deploying anti-fraud technology.
Experts also blamed the economic slowdown, with tens of thousands of workers made unemployed or having their hours reduced.
"Desperate times create desperate people," My Credit File Report's Nigel Brookson said. "Higher unemployment creates more crime, we know that.
"But people are simply not aware how common (identity fraud) is.
"Even everyday mail of bank statements or utility bills can be enough for criminals to gain access to your accounts or apply for credit in your name."
Mr Brookson said there were thousands of incidents in which people had applied for personal loans in other peoples' names, then run off with the cash.
The first thing the victim knew about it was when they applied for a loan or mortgage and were refused, because they had a credit default on their credit file.
"Then they try to prove they didn't apply for the fraudulent loan which is easier said than done" Mr Brookson said.
Credit card crime is by far the biggest single fraud issue, with almost 10 per cent of those surveyed falling victim to card theft or skimming.
Many people leave their credit cards lying around, and worse leave them at shops, not realising they are gone for days or weeks.
There is also a good argument for not signing the back of the card, instead having refer to D'L, refer to driver's License, so the retail salesperson is forced to check photo ID. This will only work however if photo ID is asked for.
While My Credit File Report urges everyone to get a copy of their credit file and report yearly, other experts said Australians were easy prey because of lax security systems.
"We have had a massive surge in credit card fraud right from the start of the year" Australia's largest credit card issuer GE Money's managing director Skander Malcolm said.
"The problem is that really effective systems such as chip and pin have been deployed in Asia and the UK but only partially rolled out in Australia.
"Fraud will migrate to the point of least resistance and if you're the last country to adopt the latest technology the fraudsters will target you because you are the easiest pickings."
The news will be an embarrassment to the banks, who repeatedly claim that their systems are secure.
Police, meanwhile, rarely investigate incidents of ID theft because it is regarded as a "low priority" crime.
Most victims are simply referred back to their banks or credit provider where they are compensated.
But the problem is simply getting worse and many critics said more resources should be poured into fighting card crime to deter criminals.
You can get a copy of your credit file, credit score, and comprehensive credit report at: My Credit File Report.
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