Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The great credit card swindle - - 07 Oct 2008

# Aussie credit card details being sold online
# Identities being offered on trial basis to scammers
# Victims shocked to learn personal details being traded

HACKERS are flaunting stolen credit card details online, allowing fraudsters to "trial" one victim's identity before buying more.

Many Australian victims had no idea their credit card and personal information was being traded online until contacted by

“You are joking,” said Melbourne man Henry Gaughan when told him his banking details were easily found online.

On one scam website, a spruiker supplied the personal and credit card details of five Australians as evidence that he would sell “correct” information to the highest bidder.

The Australians’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and credit card details – including the three-digit card verification code (CVC) required for some online transactions – were available on a public website.

Four victims contacted by were shocked to find out their Visa and MasterCard details had been freely available online for nearly five months.

Mr Gaughan said more $2000 worth of illegal transactions had been made on his Visa card, but he did not realise that any number of fraudsters could have used it.

“We’ve had a whole lot of transactions on my Visa coming through… we had about 22 transactions, (worth) more than $2000, all in small amounts.”

All purchases were made on a European shopping website, he said.

“We got a huge shock when this happened, because the card was being used in Europe.”

Police say highly organised criminal syndicates are behind the gathering and selling of credit card details of ordinary citizens.

Albury woman Kerry Seely said someone had used her card to make a series of purchases of less than $2, before attempting a $1800 transaction - which her credit union rejected.

“I just assumed it was a shop and someone there had played with my details,” Ms Seely said.

“It makes you feel pretty violated… to know that someone has found all my information.”

Posting credit card details online in the hope of making money is “nothing new”, according to fraud investigator and forensic accountant Brett Warfield from Warfield & Associates.

“It’s not unusual… they’re either looking to make money out of it or they’re just doing it for a laugh,” Mr Warfield said.

“There’s a range of ways it happens: from phishing through to accidental release through to physically stealing the card information.”

Every victim of credit card fraud contacted by said they were not charged any money for the illegal transactions.

Credit card companies and banks have procedures in place to help protect customers, says a MasterCard spokeswoman.

“If MasterCard cardholders have questions about their accounts or suspect they have been a victim of a fraudulent online scam, they should immediately contact the financial institutions that issued their cards,” the spokeswoman said.

“Australian cardholders are protected against unauthorised transactions on their accounts by MasterCard's zero liability policy.

“Protecting our cardholders, preventing fraud, and safeguarding financial information is a top priority at MasterCard.”

Tips for cardholders

— Consumers should never share any financial or personal information via email or unsolicited telephone calls

— If any consumer has questions or suspicions about the safety of their personal and financial information, they should contact their issuing bank by calling the appropriate toll free number on the back of their cards

— Be cautious about the information you share on websites, including social networks like Facebook

— Shred documents such as bank statements before placing them in rubbish bins

Tips courtesy of MasterCard, Warfield & Associates and Victoria Police.

By Mark Schliebs

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