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    Jan 10, 2014

    Is someone using your credit card?

    YOU may be knee-deep into your Chinese New Year shopping, but are you sure no one else is doing your spending for you?

    Just two days back, Mr Kenn Yap, 35, a finance manager, received an SMS informing him of a US$849.99 (S$1,080) transaction on his UOB card. The only problem is that it wasn't he who had used the card.

    "Once I called the bank, I was given the assurance that the transaction would be blocked. I'm surprised this happened to me, but I'm glad that the bank alerted me and responded quickly," he said.

    Latest police figures show that credit-card fraud went up in the first nine months of last year, after dropping for two years.

    There were 164 cases from January to September last year, compared to 136 in the same period in 2012.

    One victim last year was civil servant Estella Lim. The 34-year-old received a text message from Citibank on Nov 27 saying it was unable to contact her to confirm a charge and that her card had been "temporarily blocked for security".

    She called Citibank and found out that someone had made transactions amounting to $1,000 on her account, on an unknown travel site. She did not have to pay for the fraudulent transactions.

    Acting on the bank's advice, Ms Lim had her card replaced. She then did whatever she could to protect herself.

    "I spent more than an hour changing all my online passwords. I don't think I will save my credit-card details with any online merchant for a long, long while," she told MyPaper.

    Another victim, who wanted to be known only as Juneeta, 26, realised something was amiss when she received a one-time password on her mobile, also from Citibank on the same day as Ms Lim. She had not made any transactions.

    Over about a month, fraudsters in Europe managed to charge more than S$1,000 to her card, in British pounds and euros. The case is being investigated.

    When asked about such fraud, Citibank said that its cards are enabled with a 3D Secure service, which authenticates the cardholder's identity at the point of purchase.

    However, it added: "There are online merchants who do not offer 3D Secure authentication. For these, there will be no additional layer of security or verification for the cardholder."

    Credit-card fraud is a costly affair. According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, banks here lost $4.5 million to credit-card fraud in 2012.

    Banks mostly bear the brunt of such fraud as they absorb the amount that the fraudsters spend. There are, however, instances where merchants bear the costs.

    Banks like Maybank, DBS and OCBC said that they have safeguards in place to prevent fraud.

    Police advised the public against providing credit-card details to "non-reputable establishments", and to provide them only on fully secured websites.