4 Jan 2010

Warning ID theft on the rise

5:57 am on 4 January 2010

A credit reporting agency is warning New Zealanders to be extra vigilant over the summer as cases of identity theft surge.

While there is no hard data, Veda Advantage estimates that instances of this type of crime double over the holiday period and international gangs are targeting the credit cards of New Zealanders.

Veda Advantage managing director John Roberts says people are reporting more cases of skimming using credit cards and warns people should never let a credit card out of their sight when paying for anything.

Mr Roberts says people should watch closely whenever they use a credit card to pay for restaurant meals. He says in a recent case, a credit card was used out-of-sight by a waiter who swiped it on a machine which sent the details through to someone in South East Asia.

Mr Roberts says fraudsters also target mail at homes where it is obvious people are away to get personal details so they can set up fraudulent bank accounts.

He says in Australia one person in five over the age of 16 has reported that someone has either stolen their identity, illegally accessed their bank accounts or had their credit cards "skimmed" and he believes New Zealand is rapidly catching up.

He suggests taking simple precautions such as not leaving wallets in parked cars or on the beach.