The risks and impacts

Data collected in a recent survey* showed that 29% of Australians have had their credit, debit or ATM cards stolen or illegally skimmed and 35% had their bank accounts illegally accessed.

Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the ways in which they steal from individuals and cards such as credit, debit, ATM, store and loyalty cards are common targets. Card theft is only one risk; some criminals go so far as to steal bank statements from letterboxes and garbage to find individual details. Other criminals use the telephone and internet to attempt to access information directly from their victims by pretending to be from a bank or service provider.

Criminals do this to steal money directly from accounts but the risk can be much more significant and longer-lasting. If a criminal accesses and individual’s details they may be able to assume that person’s identity and apply for new credit cards or loans.

How Secure Sentinel helps

If you lose your registered financial cards, simply contact Secure Sentinel and we will take immediate action to cancel the card and assist with the process of arranging for a replacement.

By attaching a Secure Sentinel fraud deterrent label to your cards, thieves may be less likely to steal it. If an honest member of the public finds your cards and wishes to return them they simply need to contact Secure Sentinel on the number displayed on the label. Our specialist staff will help to facilitate the return of the cards to the owner.

Practical card safety tips

There are some very simple steps that you can take to help protect your cards:

  • In a store or restaurant, do not let the waiter or staff take your card out of your sight. This presents a risk of ‘skimming’ in which your card details are recorded and can be used later. Instead, make the payment using a portable EFTPOS machine or go to the desk to watch the payment being made.

  • Never give information about your financial cards, bank or other account details over the phone. If a person calls you and claims to be from your bank or other institution, ask for their name and department and then call the bank or institution directly to verify that they are legitimate and you can then be put through to them.

  • Never click on a link in an email that appears to be from your bank or financial institution and which asks you to log in. This scam is called ‘phishing’. Banks and financial institutions will never ask you to provide any information from a link in an email or in response to a phone call or email. Rather than connecting to the correct website, these scams take you to fake pages which may appear very convincing. Disregard these emails and if you are concerned simply contact your bank or financial institution directly.

  • Do not use public phones or hotel phones for telephone banking. A phone system can capture phone banking codes.

  • Do not use public facilities such as internet cafes or libraries for internet banking or online shopping. When buying online make sure that the website uses appropriate security as indicated by a URL starting with ‘https://’ and by the appearance of a small lock icon within the browser window.

  • Ensure that you have an up-to-date virus protection and firewall software for your personal computers.

  • When you receive a new financial card make sure that you sign the card immediately, update Secure Sentinel with the new card details and destroy the old card.

  • Never store Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) on or with your financial card. Memorise the PIN and destroy the PIN advice slip. Make sure that you reset your PIN regularly.

  • Keep your cheque book in safe place and store it on its own. Avoid storing it with personal ID like your drivers licence or passport. If both are lost or stolen together than the risk of fraud is increased. Never pre-sign cheques and do not leave details blank. And remember to of course cross cheques with the words ‘not negotiable’

  • When choosing a PIN do not choose a number that thieves could potentially guess. Avoid numbers such as 1234 or your birthday in day/month or month/year for example. Do not use your post code or parts of your telephone numbers. Do not use the same PIN for all cards and services and make sure that you regularly change your PINs.

  • Make it a habit to always check your bank statements to ensure all transactions and details are correct. If you notice anything suspicious you should contact your bank or financial institution. When disposing of bank statements make sure that you shred these before recycling.

  • It is a good idea to include a lock on your letterbox to prevent thieves from trying to steal mail from it.


Disclaimer: Any representation, statement, opinion or advice, expressed or implied in this publication is made in good faith but on the basis that Secure Sentinel is not liable (whether by reason of negligence, lack of care or otherwise) to any person for damage or loss whatsoever, which has occurred or may occur in relation to that person taking or not taking (as the case may be) action in respect of any representation, statement or advice referred to above.