'Tis the season to be wary with scammers out in force

IPSWICH police have warned people to be particularly cautious this Christmas, with scammers coming out in full force during the festive season.

Inspector Keith McDonald said scams occurred all year but the Christmas shopping period was a prime time for fraudsters.

Insp McDonald urged people to be vigilant when using ATMs and EFTPOS terminals at shopping locations.

He said there had been reports of "skimming" in the Ipswich area and people had to be extra careful during the Christmas shopping period.

Skimming devices are smaller than a deck of cards.

They are often fastened near, or over the top of, the ATM's factory-installed card reader.

The mechanical modifications made by the scammers allowed them to capture data from the magnetic stripe on the back of the ATM card.

Insp McDonald said people using an ATM should look out for any suspicious device attached to the card entry point of the machine and always cover their hand when entering their PIN.

People should also examine their bank statements for suspicious transactions.

Insp McDonald said shopping online also made buyers a target for credit card fraud and identity theft.

"Most people know someone who has been a victim of cyber crime," he said.

"Shoppers have to take care when they are making purchases on the web and make sure the sites they use are safe, secure and reputable."

An Australian Bureau of Statistics survey found more than half of all Australians now buy and sell on the internet.

Insp McDonald warned that cyber criminals could also exploit unsecured wireless networks to steal personal data or even money.

"People just have to be careful and if something looks suspicious to report it immediately," he said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently reported a 65% jump in online shopping scams.

More than 8000 victims of online shopping frauds complained to the ACCC last year.

Their losses totalled $4,038,479.

Card safety tips

  • Choose ATMs within bank branches, which are safer than ATMs in bars or shops
  • Well-lit and supervised places are also safer.
  • If you're standing at a bank of ATMs, compare them with each other for any small differences.
  • Use a hand to cover the key pad while you enter your PIN.

Topics:  credit card fraud cyber crime eftpos identity theft online shopping

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