Sometimes it pays to use cash

There’s no shortage of credit card scams circulating on-line and out in the wider Australian community at present. Reports of people being “conned” into revealing their credit card details to dodgy individuals and companies over the phone and internet are on the rise, and there is little recourse if it happens to you as the banks and credit card companies increasingly transfer the onus back onto the consumer.

In today’s technologically driven world, it’s easy to become a victim of credit card fraud regardless of how much caution you exercise. So how can you best protect yourself and your finances from this growing breed of cyber-thiefs?  

Obviously the most reliable way to know if someone has accessed your credit card is to check your statement thoroughly and immediately report anything out of the ordinary to your card provider. But it also helps to know the places that potentially carry a greater risk when it comes to using the trusty credit card. Here’s a list of places where suggest consumers should be more vigilant.

1. Markets

Obviously where there are traders who rarely remain in the one place for very long due to the transient nature of many market stall holders, there’s an inherent risk in using your credit card. The danger increases if the vendor is using an old fashioned carbon swipe machine to issue a credit card receipt.

That’s not to suggest that all market traders are out to rip unsuspecting customers off, but if you do notice something out of the ordinary in this circumstance, it might be difficult for your credit card company to recover the funds on your behalf. Cash is your best option and will make haggling all the more easier too.

2. Non-Bank ATMs

Commonly found in service stations, shopping centres and the local corner store, these ATM’s pose a threat to your security due to their encryption not being as thorough as the bank ATM’s. It is also more likely that card-skimming devices used to steal your details will be used by hackers at these ATM’s too.

3. Small Shops/Cafes in Foreign Countries

Before you pull out the credit card at shops and cafes whilst overseas, consider the fact that a significantly higher percentage of credit card fraud from smaller merchants is reported by the banks and credit card companies. And if you think you can just get your money back if it does happen to you, think again, as many of these smaller traders simply disappear before the banks can track them down.

4. Non-Secure Online Checkout

With more of us choosing to shop form the comfort of our own home, there has been a significant increase in the number of opportunists prowling the plethora of on-line “shops” and waiting for an unsuspecting victim to fleece.

Before you hand over your credit card details to an on-line merchant, make sure they have a secure checkout page. If they don’t, go out and buy whatever it is you need the old fashioned way!

5. Wi-Fi Hotspots and Public Computers

Wi-fi is fantastic for on the go business people, but when it comes to security at public wi-fi hubs in places like cafes and motels or even using your laptop in the park, it’s best to avoid using your credit card altogether. Often these connections are unsecured and can be accessed easily by other users.

6. Unsolicited E-mail Offers

the amount of spam emails circulating these days is incredible. They come from all sorts of places and are often in the guise of some reputable government agency such as the tax office, or even the banks themselves.

If you receive unsolicited marketing material via email asking you to buy something, delete it immediately and remember that official agencies never ask you to disclose personal financial details on-line.

7. Strange and Foreign Domain Extensions

The strong Aussie dollar has seen many people lured into overseas on-line shopping domains looking for a bargain. This is fine if you can trust the site you are buying from, but it’s always safer to shop locally – even if that means confining your on-line purchasing activity to Australian websites.

Credit card fraud is growing in Australia – be careful!


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

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