Credit card scams

Scammers using your credit card

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 scams.

How credit card scams work

Scammers can get your credit card details by:

  • Tricking you into telling them your credit card number and/or your security code (the three-digit code on the back of your card) by pretending to be your bank or another company   
  • Installing spyware on your computers so they can see the files you use, websites you visit and information you store - spyware can be installed remotely
  • Stealing your credit card - you may lose your wallet or have your bag stolen
  • Using card skimming devices on ATMs
  • Accessing information on unsecured websites
  • Accessing details from your online shopping activities

Once the scammers have your credit card number and security code, they can make purchases over the internet or by phone. If they 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 card). 

Warning signs

Your credit card details may have been taken by a scammer if:

  • There are purchases on your credit card statement that you didn't make
  • You have accidently given your credit card details (on the phone or internet) to someone you later realise is not to be trusted
  • You have lost or had your credit card stolen

Protecting yourself

There are simple things you can do to protect yourself from credit card scams:

  • Regularly check your bank account statements and if there are any purchases you cannot account for, report them to your bank
  • Do not give your personal, credit card or online account details to a caller on the phone unless you made the call, or to anyone in an email (even if the caller seems legitimate and has given you most of your account and address details)
  • Use the phone book to independently check the contact details of the company calling you before you give them any of your details
  • Do not give your PIN to anyone and choose passwords that would be difficult for others to work out
  • Never use computers in libraries or internet cafes for your online banking
  • Have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on your computer
  • Be wary when installing applications onto your phone. Scammers may send you applications designed to download malicious software and steal bank account details. See the ACCC's SCAMwatch webpage on mobile phone scams.

For more information on online scam protection, see the Australian Goverment publication Protecting yourself online

What to do if you have been scammed

  1. Call your bank to report the scam and ask them to help you get your money back
  2. File a police report at your local police station
  3. Get a copy of your credit report from one of these reporting agencies: MyCreditFile.com.au (Veda), CheckYourCredit.com.au (Dun and Bradstreet) and Tasmanian Collection Service (see credit reports). This allows you to check that no-one is using your name to borrow money or run up debts.
  4. Warn your family and friends

If you want to see how a credit card scam works, read our case study on a credit card scam


Related links


Last updated: 10 Jul 2015