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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Shadow Assistant Treasurer: Parliament House, Canberra: 22 June 2005: Credit card fraud.

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Joel Fitzgibbon MP

Shadow Assistant Treasurer Shadow Minister for Revenue Shadow Minister for Banking and Financial Services


22 June 2005

Subject - Credit card fraud

FITZGIBBON - Over the course of the last few months someone out there took the decision not to inform up to 100,000 credit card holders that they were at risk of being exposed to credit card fraud.

The million dollar question today is was the Government a part of that decision and of course when did the Government first learn of the exposure of those consumers to the largest credit card fraud we have seen in the history of credit card operation.

REPORTER - Why do you think the government played a role and not authorities like the police and the FBI in the United States?

FITZGIBBON - We know that this was first disclosed in September of last year. We know that the FBI has been undertaking inquiries since then. Therefore we know the American authorities knew and I think it is fair to assume that the Australian authorities knew as well given the impact here in Australia. I don’t think it is unfair to assume that therefore the Government was informed.

When Senator Coonan was asked this question in the Senate yesterday, she refused to answer.

REPORTER - Some of the banks say that it is up to the consumers themselves to notice on their credit card statements whether they have been duded?

FITZGIBBON - Well you know I may be a-typical, but I don’t spend every evening looking at my credit card statement. It is up to the consumer to take a decision about whether they feel their exposure was sufficient to cancel their card. If you loose your card you have got to take the decision whether to wait and see if it turns up or cancel it immediately. All of those consumers should have been warned of

the potential exposure, it should have been their decision whether to cancel that card or not to cancel that card. It was neither up to the Government or the schemes or the card issuers to make that decision for them.

REPORTER - Is that decision mitigated though by the decision to absorb any losses?

FITZGIBBON - Well of course the banks and the issuers generally will always be keen to mitigate their losses but I would have thought that the absolute priority in these circumstances was of course the consumer.

REPORTER - Wouldn’t the argument go that if they were trying to keep it quite for the purposes of their investigation to ultimately benefit more consumers because they would crack the problem?

FITZGIBBON - Well when does the consumer take priority? Up to 100,000 Australian consumers were exposed to this fraud and someone collectively decided that the investigation should come first. It is like leaving the murderer on the loose without warning anyone until the investigation comes to a close.

I think the consumer deserved to have the option reduce their exposure and that should have been the priority.