Credit card firms warn on Net use

Credit card companies are warning customers that they could pay for their mistakes if they use their cards unwisely over the Internet. Currently, if a customer pays for a product that never arrives, they are only responsible for the first $50, but that doesn't mean they have no responsibility when it comes to handing over their card details.

Credit card companies are warning customers that they could pay for their mistakes if they use their cards unwisely over the Internet.

Currently, if a customer pays for a product that never arrives, they are only responsible for the first $50, but that doesn’t mean they have no responsibility when it comes to handing over their card details.

“If people are irresponsible in terms of where they’re giving out those details then I don’t think the banks can be responsible for that,” says Countrywide Bank’s marketing manager Graham Walmsley. “I suppose customers shouldn’t be using their cards on the Internet because there is an inherent risk there,” says Walmsley, although he does agree this is impractical. He has some suggestions for safety when using credit cards over the Internet.

“Only do it when you’re aware of who you’re dealing with and that they’re reputable, otherwise you’re leaving yourself open. Customers have to be aware that there is a risk.”

New Zealand has had little in the way of problems using credit cards over the Internet, says Walmsley. “Internet use in New Zealand has taken off but it’s still early days.” He believes New Zealanders are, on the whole, being prudent with their credit cards when it comes to transacting business over the Net.

E-commerce is currently dominated by business-to-business transactions, but consumer use on the Net is increasing in New Zealand. IDC puts the number of New Zealanders making purchases over the Net in 1997 at around 29,000. This year that number looks set to exceed 70,000 and continue to grow rapidly in 1999. IDC’s research manager, Graham Penn, believes New Zealanders will use the Net for shopping as they grow more confident in its use.

“Once they’ve ‘risked’ their money once, they’re more likely to come back for a second bite.” The total amount of business transacted across the Web in New Zealand last year was around $US10 million.

• In Australia the other side of credit card fraud is causing trouble. Customers who give false credit card details when opening accounts or paying bills are costing ISPs and banks thousands of dollars a month.

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