8 Apr 2004

Who is it for?
Anyone with a credit card, particularly those who believe credit card fraud “won’t happen to me”.

What information does it contain?
With the Christmas shopping season simultaneously in full swing and credit card fraud spiralling out of control, this website created by the Irish Payment Services Organisation (the umbrella group for the credit card industry), represents a timely (or desperate) effort to raise awareness about fraud among all credit card users and retailers, and educate them as to how they can reduce the risk of being a victim.

The site explains how well-known scams such as ‘skimming’ — the practice of copying data on a credit card’s magnetic stripe to make counterfeit cards — work and highlights new threats such as ATM fraud. This is where the fraudster steals the PIN code of a bank card holder either by simply looking over his or her shoulder or by using long-range cameras.

A lot of the advice is of the ‘no-brainer’ category, ie “never write down your PIN” or “report lost or stolen cards immediately”, but there is plenty here to ponder. How many of us diligently compare our shopping receipts against credit card bills or object when a member of a restaurant’s waiting staff disappears with our credit card?

The safety of online shopping is another issue addressed. While reassuring us that the e-commerce transactions are equally as secure as physical purchases and sometimes more so, again the site offers a number of tips to minimise the risk. The last area of advice is given in relation to the growing problem of ‘identity theft’ in which a criminal uses personal information obtained from you to impersonate you and so conduct transactions in your name.

How does it look?
Not bad, although Flash technology is used quite liberally. Users will need to download it from the Macromedia site to see the full content.

Best feature?
No knock-out features but it should contain enough useful links, downloads and top tips to keep card fraud at bay.

The verdict?
Contains plenty of useful advice as well as all the relevant contact details you’ll need in an emergency. Whether or not you will immediately think of jumping on the web in the aftermath of your credit card being stolen is another matter.

By Brian Skelly