A surge in credit card fraud at ATMs and EFTPOS facilities has seen Australians fleeced of tens of millions of dollars in recent months.
A leading fraud expert says Australia's outdated and insecure banking technology has made the country the target of Romanian credit card skimmers with increasingly sophisticated equipment.
NSW Fraud Squad commander Col Dyson told ninemsn that gangs obtained credit card details with magnetic stripe skimmers and cameras attached to standard ATMs.
"There's usually a skimmer on the slot which picks up the data from the magnetic stripe but that's useless without the PIN, so they pick it up with a camera which is located above the keypad," he said.
"The devices being used for skimming generally are getting more sophisticated and generally smaller and hold more data."
Credit card skimmers are also gaining banking details through EFTPOS machines, with more than $2.5 million stolen from 3500 McDonalds customers whose details were taken from Perth outlets of the fast food chain.
Western Australian police believe the criminals replaced the keypads in the McDonalds' EFTPOS devices with card skimming technology.
But Australian Bankers' Association chief executive David Bell told ninemsn most examples of skimming were from criminals using handheld devices.
"Generally, skimming is done by criminals via a handheld device through which a card is swiped," he said.
"Criminals use the information gleaned from the card to create counterfeit cards or spend money from accounts of customers of financial service providers."
Romanian police recently worked with the Australian Federal Police to arrest 14 of their countrymen whose credit card skimming gang had been making up to $40,000 a day from Australian victims.
Detective Superintendent Dyson said people should not let credit cards out of their sight and to make sure vendors only use the card in one machine.
People should also closely check their credit card statements for irregularities and cover the ATM keypad with their hand when entering their PIN.
A report from security firm CQR Consulting showed counterfeit credit card or skimming fraud rose by 49 percent from 2007 to 2008 to nearly $50 million.
By Nick Pearson