<p>SYDNEY, Australia – Credit card and check (or cheques as the Australians spell it) fraud is on the rise everywhere, and down under is no exception. The costs of fraud to Australian CUs may seem less in total dollars than in the U.S. because of Australia’s smaller population, it may not be all that different. Australian credit unions are no happier suffering financial loses than U.S. credit unions are, and they intend to do something about it. According to U.S. fraud consultant Frank Abagnale, cheque fraud in Australia is somewhere between $800 [million] and $1 billion Australian dollars. That compares to the United States which has about $20 billion in check fraud annually, Abagnale was quoted in a story by the Australian Broadcasting Company. He also pointed out that “cheque fraud has become very popular because it is so simple to do, unlike years ago where you needed colour printing presses, colour separations, negatives, plates and some skill, today someone with a PC, a scanner and a printer can sit down and design a cheque in a matter of minutes.” Likewise credit card fraud figures have been growing, and some of that increase is coming from consumers shopping over the Internet. Still, Australians are wary. John Ridge, president of the Australian Computer Society, reported that although 46% of the Australian population shopped over the Internet, the number one reason cited by those who don’t is security issues. To address the problem, the Australia Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is proposing new loss limits for credit card holders in its Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Code of Practice. The limits would be AUS$50 (US$33) Consumers will only be responsible when a Personal Identification Number (PIN) is used. For signature loses the limit is AUS$150 (US$99). Banks are also responding to the problem. The National Australia Bank (NAB) claims to have saved $2 million in three months by using Nestor’s PRISM software. The product picks up unusual spending patterns in customer credit card purchases. Australian credit unions are forming a committee to study the problem and possible solutions. The project is being led by the Credit Union Services Corporation of Australia (CUSCAL). Last year under the new CEO Steve Laue, CUSCAL aimed to become a “best of breed” service center to Australian credit unions. Responding to credit union needs on the fraud issue is another example of CUSCAL’s new attitude and goals. The committee will be national, according to CUSCAL’s Danny Pavisic, who is leading the project. CUSCAL’s object is to find the widest possible audience. The call went out last month for the initial meeting to be held in early March. Although CUSCAL has initiated the meeting in response to several credit union’s requests, the agenda will be determined by the attendees. Listening and responding, however, doesn’t mean inaction. To get things underway, CUSCAL is arranging talks with VISA, the police, and other experts. Although it won’t be the major thrust, the committee may also consider internal fraud. CUSCAL said this is has not been a major problem. APRA (Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority) audits credit unions annually, and CUs also are checked by internal and external auditors. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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