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Avoid fraud this Christmas with tips from Visa

Visa advises cardholders and merchants to be wary during holiday season

Avoid fraud this Christmas with tips from Visa

With the silly season at our doorstep, Ian McKindley, New Zealand/Australia Risk Manager for Visa International, says it is very important for credit cardholders and merchants to be wary of fraud over this period.

“Christmas time is always chaotic for shoppers and retailers alike. Whether you are travelling overseas or spending the holiday season at home, there are a number of simple tips that people can use to prevent credit card fraud during this busy time,” said Mr. McKindley. For consumers, Mr. McKindley suggests:

Protect your cards as if they were cash. Do not leave them unattended anywhere, such as in a car, bar, nightclub or on the beach. Ensure that you get your card back after every purchase – it may sound simple, but many people walk out of a shop without taking their card with them. Ensure that your card is only swiped through the Point of Sale machine. Cardholders should keep a vigilant eye on where their card is swiped, whether it be at a petrol station or a restaurant. If the card is swiped through two different machines there is the potential for it to have been skimmed. Always check sales vouchers including the purchase amount when you sign them - keep copies of sales vouchers and ATM receipts. Never give your credit card number over the phone, unless you are dealing with a reputable company, or you have initiated the call yourself. Always check your billing statement, especially after a trip. Check the amounts of your purchases against your sales vouchers and receipts - specifically look for transactions that are
not yours. Do not volunteer any personal information when you use your credit card, other than your ID document, which may be requested. Know who has access to your cards. If your credit card is borrowed by a family member (spouse, child, parent), with or without your knowledge, you may be responsible for their purchase/cash withdrawal.

Merchants are also at risk this Christmas of being victims of credit card fraud. “During frantic periods, merchants often forget to do simple actions, like obtaining a signature on the sales voucher and checking the back of a credit card for signature verification,” said Mr. McKindley. “Merchants who do not process transactions correctly can be held liable for any fraudulent transactions that they accept, so it is important for them to adhere to a few simple guidelines to prevent this happening.”

Check the front of the Visa card. Does the Visa account number begin with a "4"? The first four digits printed under the first four digits of the embossed account number must match. Check the back of the Visa card. The word "Visa" must be repeated at an angle across the signature panel in the Visa colours of blue and gold. Merchants must ensure the signature on the back of the card matches the signature on the sales draft. Look at the signature panel Is the signature panel signed? If not, ask the customer to sign the card. A merchant can ask to see government ID - a driver's license or passport. When the customer signs the card, compare signatures on the card and ID. If signatures match, the merchant can proceed with the transaction.

It is also important for merchants to learn to recognise suspicious customer behaviour. Merchants should be alert for customers who:

Make indiscriminate purchases without regard to size, style, colour, or price. Make purchases, leaves the establishment, and returns to make additional purchases. Hurries the sales assistant to complete the sale at closing time. Refuses free delivery for large items.

If a merchant is suspicious of the card or cardholder they should call their voice authorisation centre and ask for a "Code 10". They should follow the operator's instructions if it is safe to do so. Rewards of up to $150 are given to merchants who recover a card in response to a ‘card pick-up’ request from the authorization centre.

“If a cardholder suspects their card may have been compromised or a merchant receives a suspicious transaction over this period, they should call their bank immediately,” said Mr. McKindley. “If you are travelling overseas, Visa cardholders who have lost, had their card stolen or compromised can call reverse charges +61 2 9251 3704 for immediate assistance.”

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