Credit Card Fraud
Ms KENEALLY: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police. What is his response to Strike Force Venlo?
Mr WATKINS: I thank the honourable member for her question and congratulate her on her election to this House. The security of financial transactions in an increasingly electronic world is a major concern for all of us, whether we are buying a pair of shoes, paying for a meal or paying for insurance online. We all want to be assured that our financial data is protected. We also want to know that when organised crime sees a new way to rip people often, the police will be working hard to close loopholes and chase down offenders. Today I am pleased to advise the House of the outstanding work being done by NSW Police to prosecute those involved in the relatively new crime of credit card skimming.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is so much conversation on the Opposition frontbench that it is almost impossible to hear the Minister. Most of that conversation is silly, childish chatter. Those on the Opposition frontbench will listen to the Minister in silence.
Mr WATKINS: Credit card skimming is a new type of crime that is becoming more common in our community. Yesterday NSW Police, through Strike Force Venlo, arrested a 36-year-old woman on alleged credit card skimming. Skimming occurs when the data from a magnetic strip on a credit card or an automatic teller machine [ATM] card is copied by another electronic device. The information is stored and downloaded onto a blank fake credit card. A duplicate card then is created which is used to access the unwitting victim’s account. The first time that many victims know they have been targeted is when they receive their credit card statement at the end of the month showing that thousands of dollars worth of debts have been run up on that card. Obviously I am unable to say anything more about yesterday's case because the matter is before the courts. But I am able to issue a warning to credit card skimmers and anyone who thinks that it is a good business to get into: New South Wales police officers are on your tail, are getting results and soon will have even more powerful laws to stop your illegal activities.
Credit card skimming is the latest species of fraud. Each year credit card fraud costs the community and financial institutions millions of dollars. Strike Force Venlo commenced eight months ago, after the creation of the State Crime Command. It is a proactive, intelligence-based strike force investigating organised credit card fraud. Venlo is operating with the co-operation of the banks, financial institutions and retailers—and it is getting impressive results. Since Venlo was established it has made 17 major arrests of key figures who are believed to be linchpins in the skimming game. I congratulate the members of Venlo on their work to date and inform them and the House that the Government is currently finalising plans to help them to get on with the job.
The Government strongly acknowledges that the law needs to keep up with new technology. We must do all we can to provide police with the tools they need to better target what is becoming very sophisticated crime. That is why I am pleased to advise the House that new skimming laws are currently being finalised. New laws will make it illegal to manufacture, repair, traffic or possess any device adapted to be used in connection with forging or falsifying credit cards. It will also be an offence to unlawfully possess, use or traffic in credit card data. These matters are also being progressed at the national level. A national committee is working to promote a common law across all jurisdictions.
The re-establishment of the specialist squads within NSW Police means that our police force is more capable than ever of tracking down organised fraudsters. However, I urge consumers to take care, to be vigilant, when using credit cards. We all want their convenience, but credit card users should follow the advice of NSW Police to always keep watch on their credit cards when buying goods, and to report anything untoward, especially if their card has been swiped twice. I urge everyone to carefully check their credit card and bank statements at the end of each month and report any irregularities to their bank.