Credit card fraud observations from down under

Whilst UK credit card issuers are about as free with revealing fraud issues as the Vatican is with its finances, the Australian banks seem to be the exact opposite.

As witnessed by reports that Visa International's Australian division has revealed that one in two retailers down under are risking things by not complying with global standards to reduce credit card fraud.

Visa Oz/NZ also claims that only 49 per cent of its merchants are aware of the international standard on payment security, called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

According to Bruce Mansfield, the vice prez of Visa Oz/NZ, credit card fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated and many thieves using the Internet to exploit weaknesses in the system.

Get away! -Ed.

Okay - now the juicy stuff. The Australian Institute of Criminology reports that the number of recorded offences - including cheque and credit card fraud, fraudulent trade practices, social security fraud, forgery, counterfeiting and bribery etc - has actually fallen.

The latest available figures, say the Australian newswires, show the number of offences totalled 102,873 in 2003/04, down from 112,264 in 1999/2000.

Thanks to this, says Mansfield, card fraud in the Asia Pacific region has fallen to a new low of three cents in every 100 dollars - that's about 0.03 per cent by my reckoning.

Which is pretty low. If you assume the card issuers make around 3.0 per cent gross on card usage - and that's a conservative figure - then card fraud accounts for one per cent of the card issuers' gross margins.

Which is not bad, when you start to think about it...