Rise Of Credit Card Frauds In Singapore And How To Protect Yourself Against Them

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Cases in Singapore such as that of SingHealth and Apple prove that Singapore is not safe from cybersecurity data breaches. Such cases also attest to incidents of financial identity theft and the ongoing issue of credit card fraud.

What Is Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud refers to any theft or misappropriation of funds where a credit card or a debit card is used as the medium through which the crime is committed.

Fraudsters involved in credit card fraud usually have unauthorized access to credit card and debit card information. They then use this information to obtain money or make payments. Credit card fraud can take any of the three forms below:

  1. A case that involves criminal deception (misleading with intent) by getting unauthorized access to an entity’s account or information.
  2. Unauthorized or illegal use of an individual’s account or information with the intention of obtaining personal gain.
  3. Misrepresentation of a person’s account details in order to obtain services and/or goods.

Over the years, cases of credit card fraud, financial fraud and cyber-attacks in general have been on the increase. This can be attributed to a number of issues:

Millions of people today have their data pertaining to aspects such as health, social security and bank accounts stored in computers across the world (what is referred to as cyberspace or the cyber environment).

Secondly, more and more people are using credit cards and debit cards to make payments and access their accounts. At the same time, many criminals are tech-savvy, which enables them to exploit any available loophole to get unauthorized access to cards and people’s personal information.

In Singapore for instance, cyber attackers were recently able to permeate SingHealth, the country’s largest healthcare provider, and cause a significant data breach.

Advances In Technology And The Increase In Cyber-Attacks And Financial Fraud

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Advances in technology have made it necessary for different of kinds of personal information to be stored and retrieved in computers that are located in different places across the world.

For instance, you can use your credit or debit card to shop online, book a flight or withdraw money at an ATM. The thing about online shopping is that most of the time, your credit card details will be stored on either your phone or laptop. This makes you susceptible to financial identity theft.

On a larger scale, various public and private institutions store people’s personal information in computers. For instance, SingHealth has stored medical records of people who have used their services.

Banks also have people’s information about bank accounts and personal information such as your date of birth, phone number, full name among many other things.

Another thing to note is that most of us would probably have the various banks’ application (DBS, OCBC, UOB, etc.) downloaded onto our phones. Such applications store important information such as our bank balance and personal details. In addition, it also allows us to make transfers between accounts.

Such personal information is tempting for criminals. They get to exploit any opportunity that is available to gain unauthorized access to your personal information.

Thus, criminals can hack into computer systems and steal your information or use credit and debit card details to get access to your bank account.

With regard to credit card and debit card fraud, it has been noted that many cybercriminals rely on lost cards to retrieve people’s information and gain access to their accounts.

Examples Of Cyber-Attacks And Financial Frauds That Have Occurred In Recent Times

Cases of cyber-attacks and financial fraud are common in Singapore. One of the most notable cases was the cyber-attack on SingHealth’s computer system.

During the attack, the attackers infiltrated SingHealth’s computer system and illegally accessed and copied non-medical personal details of the people who had used the organization’s services between May 2015 and 4th July 2018.

The information included people’s names, ID card information, addresses and birth dates. Cybercriminals steal people’s personal information so that they can use such information to apply for credit cards fraudulently and to get access to more information such as a person’s social security data.

Several other cases of cybercrimes have been reported in Singapore in the recent times.

For example, in March 2018, five men who had been involved in a credit card fraud racket in the country were arrested. The five men had been involved in more than 50 cases of fraud in which they stole about $200,000 from their victims.

Prior to the arrest of the five swindlers, numerous banks including Citibank and UOB had filed their complaints to the police indicating that several credit card applications had been noted to be associated with supporting documents that appeared forged.

Another recent case of credit card fraud stemmed from Apple. Customers in different locations in Singapore reportedly noticed a large number of falsified credit card charges being conducted through iTunes.

Two people were reported to have lost at least 7,000 Singapore dollars from their bank accounts as a result of purchases on iTunes. Several banks, including DBS, UOB, HSBC, Maybank and OCBC, were affected by the syndicate. The fraudsters caused systems to charge customers several times for purchases on iTunes.

Risks And Consequences Of Credit Card Fraud And Other Types Of Cybercrime

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1. Risks

Various types of technologies that are used with computer systems are associated with a number of risks.

For instance, the use of computing devices such as computers and smartphones exposes people to system-related attacks. In particular, computing devices that are connected to the Internet can be attacked using different types of malware.

Some types of malware can be used to spy or steal a person’s information. This is otherwise referred to as identity theft. Cases of criminals stealing people’s personal information and using it to access social media accounts and other types of personal accounts have been on the rise in recent times.

The use of credit cards and debit cards exposes people to risks. These include in-person fraud, online fraud, identity fraud and ATM fraud.

All these types of fraud are likely to occur if a card or its information is stolen. For instance, in-person fraud occurs when a thief steals a person’s card and uses the card to make payments for goods at various stores.

2. Consequences

There are numerous consequences of credit card frauds and other types of related crimes. Some of the consequences are as follows:

  • Some cases of fraud or attacks cause a lot of disruption and inconvenience. This is witnessed in the case of the attack on SingHealth’s system.
  • Companies and individuals incur notable losses when cases of fraud or cyber-attacks are experienced. In May 2018, a study that was commissioned by Microsoft suggested that cases of cyber-security were leading to an economic loss of 17.7 billion USD in Singapore.
  • Companies have to spend a lot of resources in efforts to protect their own data as well as information belonging to their clients.

Tips For People To Protect Themselves From Instances Of Credit Card Fraud And Other Cybercrimes

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  • Regularly reviewing a credit card statement in order to spot any unusual activity.
  • Keeping track of a credit card when shopping to avoid theft of card information through processes such as skimming.
  • Using strong passwords on emails, web-based accounts and devices such as computers and smartphones.
  • Avoiding the tendency to save credit card information on any website when using the card online.
  • Ensuring that cards are not stolen and reporting to the relevant organizations immediately in case a card gets lost.
  • Avoiding unverified Wi-Fi hotspots, which can be used to steal card information.
  • Not responding to unsolicited requests. These include requests for any personal information like your name, birth date or bank account number.