Expats in Australia cautioned over card fraud

Published:  21 Feb at 4 PM
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As reported in The Telegraph, Australia is one of the trendiest destinations for migrating Britons, with over 100,000 relocating there between 2005 - 2010. While most Brits living abroad open bank accounts in their new Australian home, a 2010 survey revealed that over half of those immigrants who moved over five years ago had retained a current UK bank account.

However, little-used bank cards which sit forgotten in a drawer may pose a great threat to British citizens living Down Under. Last year, a banking system was introduced which now eliminates the need for a signature or a PIN for transactions smaller than AU$35 (£24). Firms involved thus far include the nation’s main supermarkets Woolworths and Coles, K-Mart and McDonald’s.

Distinct from contactless payment schemes, which only function with specially issued bank cards, this new scheme works with existing cards, such as those issued abroad, says Mark Austin of Visa Europe. He said a UK bank card being used at participating merchants will function without a PIN or a signature for transactions smaller than AU$35.

This applies whether the bank card is used via the magstripe or with the chip. It will function so long as the issuing bank accepts this transaction; the issuers may choose to reject the transaction if they saw it as too risky, said Austin.

Australian consumer groups have raised concerns over these “time-saving” methods, arguing that there exists no way for cardholders to opt out. Retailers and card issuers assert that the low limit discouraged thieves. However, critics say that fraudsters could still accumulate a large bill by making several small transactions.
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