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Credit card fraud, traps and scams: a guide to minimising the risks
Being a victim of credit card fraud is not something anyone expects, but taking some simple precautions and knowing what to steer clear of can help you avoid some obvious traps.
Many Kiwis have been subject to credit card scams and online fraud. Most scams happen online, through card-not-present (CNP) fraud.
Credit cards already offer zero-liability policies that protect you against fraudulent charges (so you don’t have to pay for them). Many cards also have fraud-monitoring software that detects suspicious activity. However, you can also use some strategies to protect your account from fraud in the first place.
You can use this guide to discover how you can protect your finances and what to do if you’ve been the victim of credit card fraud or a scam.
Who do I contact if I suspect that my credit card has been used fraudulently?
Depending on the circumstances, you should either contact your bank or the police.
Contact your bank
If you spot suspicious activity on your credit card account, contact your card issuer immediately to freeze your account and resolve the issue. If you have the card handy, call the number printed on it to speak to a representative.
In this table, you can find the contact details for your credit card company.
|American Express||Varies per card. Click here for contact information.|
|ANZ||0800 658 044 Mon-Fri: 8am-8:30pm Sat-Sun: 9am-5pm|
|ASB||0800 100 600 Mon-Fri: 8am-8pm Sat: 8:30am-5pm|
|BNZ||0800 275 269 Mon-Fri: 8am-8pm Sat: 9am-6pm|
|The Co-operative Bank||0800 554 554 Mon-Fri: 8am-8pm Sat-Sun: 9am-5pm|
|Farmers||0800 990 077 Mon-Wed: 8:30am-6pm Thu-Fri: 8:30am-9pm Sat-Sun: 9am-6pm|
|Flight Centre||0800 500 450 Mon-Wed: 8:30am-6pm Thu-Fri: 8:30am-9pm Sat-Sun: 9am-6pm|
|Gem||0800 500 505 Mon-Fri: 10:30am-6:30pm|
|Kiwibank||0800 521 521 Mon-Thu: 7am-9pm Fri: 7am-8pm Sat-Sun: 8am-4:30pm|
|Q||0800 119 100 Mon-Wed: 8:30am-6:00pm Thu-Fri: 8:30am-9pm Sat-Sun: 9am-6pm|
|TSB||0800 872 226 Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm Sat-Sun: 9am-5pm|
|Warehouse Money||0800 801 808 Mon-Fri: 8:30am-7pm Sat-Sun: 9am-5pm|
|Westpac||0800 888 111 Mon-Fri: 7am-8pm Sat-Sun: 8am-5pm|
New Zealand-issued cards are usually covered by Visa or Mastercard’s Zero Liability agreements or American Express credit card fraud protection, which means you’ll be refunded any defrauded funds. However, terms and conditions apply. For example, you may be required to report the issue within a set number of days.
Report it to the New Zealand Police
Non-urgent matters can be reported to the police by phoning 105, a nationwide, 24-hour service. Or you can contact them online at https://www.police.govt.nz/105support
Alternatively, you can call your local police station, details of which can be found on the New Zealand Police website – https://www.police.govt.nz
How does credit card fraud work?
These are the types of credit card fraud that you should watch out for and how they work:
- Card-not-present fraud. This involves your card details being used to make online and over-the-phone transactions, where there is no need for a physical card, a PIN or a signature.
- Counterfeit card fraud. Fraudsters can use your credit card data to make a counterfeit card. They can retrieve your data through a method called skimming or can buy it from black markets.
- Not-received fraud. This is when someone accesses your card before you do, such as through your mailbox when you apply for a new card.
- Application fraud. In this case, someone might apply for a credit card in your name, using your personal details and then use it to make purchases and cash advances. This is often linked to further identity theft issues, as they would need to provide enough documentation to be approved for a card in your name.
6 tips for avoiding credit card fraud
Credit card fraud can come in many forms, so here are some strategies you should use to protect your account.
1. Keep your credit card secure
Make sure to cover your card when entering your PIN at the checkout or withdrawing cash from an ATM. If you’ve lost your credit card, contact your bank immediately to cancel the card and get a new one issued as soon as possible.
2. Regularly review your statement
As well as keeping track of your spending, it’s wise to regularly check your credit card statement to stay on top of any suspicious behaviour. This is relatively easy to do if you’re using Internet banking or an app.
Although your bank usually contacts you if they spot suspicious transactions on your account (such as a large or overseas transaction), you may catch a fraudster early if you review your statement. This is because they may test your account first by making a small transaction (at either a domestic business or one overseas) before making a big purchase. The sooner you spot any odd listings on your account and report them to your bank, the better.
3. Check your credit report
As well as your credit card statement, you should also monitor your financial history through your credit report. If you see any listings (such as applications) that you didn’t make, contact the relevant card issuer and the credit reporting bureau immediately to investigate the issue and have it removed from your report.
4. Use secure websites
When you’re shopping online, look for https:// at the beginning of the website address instead of http://, which means the website has added security, and you’re less likely to be a victim of fraud.
You should also look at the website’s reviews to check any evidence of negative feedback or poor reviews of products. If an item is offered for considerably less than the online retail price, you should also be wary as it’s likely to be a scam.
When you’re using your credit card online, you could also consider using encrypted services such as PayPal, which allow you to shop without sharing your financial details with the website.
5. Be wary of suspicious emails, text messages and calls
The correspondence will vary, but a scam email or text message could be asking you to update your details, reporting an overdue account or flagging a fraudulent transaction. Messages claiming you’ve won a prize or competition are also common. Be extra cautious if you haven’t entered a competition and don’t provide your personal details to an unfamiliar caller or respond to an unexpected text message.
If you receive an email or text message that appears to be from your bank, always check the phone number and address before responding. Don’t click on any links or download any attachments from any email. If you’re suspicious, don’t respond and contact your card issuer directly via the contact number listed on their website instead.
Other tell-tale signs of a phishing email include: addressing the email to “customer” rather than your full name, spelling and grammatical errors, odd symbols and incorrect logos. If you suspect a suspicious email or text, you can report it to Netsafe on their website, or call toll free on 0508 638 723.
If you receive a call from someone who claims to be your bank and asks you to confirm your card information, don’t provide any information. Instead, contact your bank directly using the contact details listed on their website to determine if it was a legitimate call. You should be especially careful if the call is from an international or blocked number.
6. Notify your bank if your address or contact details change
If your residential details change, contact your bank to have your details updated so that any new cards or bank statements aren’t sent to your old address. You should also update your contact information if it changes so that your bank can contact you regarding a potentially fraudulent transaction on your account.
Credit card fraud can be an overwhelming experience, but it’s essential to remain calm and contact your card issuer as soon as possible.