Credit card scams
Don't fall for scammers' tricks
Scammers have clever ways to get you to give them your credit
card details over the phone, by email or using text messages. They
may even try to take the card itself by stealing your wallet.
Our tips show you how to identify and avoid credit card
How credit card scams work
Scammers don't always need your credit card to take your money.
In more than 80% of cases, they steal the card details and then
start spending. In 2016-17 they clocked up $442 million in
fraudulent transactions that way.
Scammers can get your credit card details by:
- contacting you online or by phone, pretending to be your bank
or another company, and tricking you into giving them your credit
- accessing information on unsecured websites
- getting details from your online shopping activities
- installing spyware on your computer so they can see the files
you use, websites you visit and information you store. Spyware can
be installed remotely.
In 2016-17 alone, Australians were defrauded of almost $36
million due to lost or stolen credit cards.
Some scammers also steal new cards from letterboxes, skim the
details off cards to use later, or apply for cards using stolen
If scammers know your PIN, they can get cash
advances from an ATM using a 'cloned' credit card (where your
details have been copied onto the magnetic strip of another
Case study: Scammers get Veronica's credit card details
Veronica was expecting a new credit card when she received a call from a man saying he was
from her bank. The man apologised for the delay in sending the card
but said he needed her to confirm a few details so the card could
She thought the request was a little strange but didn't question
it. The man asked her for her address and date of birth and she
gave this information to him.
She started to get suspicious when he hung up on her after she
asked him why he was after those details.
Later that afternoon, Veronica called her bank and was told that
her phone banking had been activated that day and the limit on her
credit card had already been spent.
The information she had given the man was enough for him to
answer the bank's security questions and activate phone banking.
The scammer then transferred money from her savings account to her
credit card so that a further cash withdrawal could be taken from
her credit card.
Veronica realised that mail, including the credit card, had been
stolen from her letterbox.
Veronica eventually got her money back from the bank, after
reporting the incident to them.
She became very wary of scams and regularly
checked her bank account statements to ensure all the purchases
were hers. She also put a lock on her letterbox so only she could
access her mail.
Warning signs of credit card
Your credit card details may have been taken by a scammer
- there are purchases on your credit card statement that you
- you have accidently given your credit card details (on the
phone or internet) to someone you later realise is not to be
- you have lost or had your credit card stolen.
from credit card scams
These are simple things you can do to protect yourself from
credit card scams:
- If someone calls or emails you claiming to be from your bank or
another organisation and asks for personal information or online
account details, do not give it to them, no matter how legitimate
they seem. Instead, call the organisation yourself (use the
internet or phone book to independently get their correct contact
details) to check if it is legitimate.
- Check your bank and credit
card statements for purchases you cannot account for, and
report them to your bank immediately.
- Do not give your PIN to anyone, and choose passwords that
would be difficult for others to work out.
- Never use public computers (e.g. in libraries) for online
- Ensure the anti-virus software installed on your computer is
- Be wary when installing applications onto your phone - they can
be used by scammers to steal account details. See the ACCC's
SCAMwatch webpage on
mobile phone scams.
For more information on online scam protection, see the
Australian Goverment website about protecting yourself
What to do if a scammer uses your
- Call your bank to report the scam and ask them to help you get
your money back.
- File a police report.
- Get a copy of your credit report, to check that no-one is
using your name to run up debts.
- Warn your family and friends.
Scammers only need your credit card
details to take your money. Always be vigilant about protecting
your personal information, and report it immediately if you have
Last updated: 03 Apr 2018