They’re convenient, easy to carry and growing in popularity. Canadians are among the biggest users of debit cards in the world, ranking third behind residents of Sweden and the United States. Chances are, if you have a bank account, you have a debit card. But do you know how to protect yourself from debit card fraud?
Most debit card fraud occurs when a debit card reader has been tampered with and modified to record the information contained within the card’s magnetic strip. This allows criminals to create a duplicate or “cloned” debit card, but they still need your PIN in order to access your account. To achieve that, they quite often will have a hidden camera (in the ceiling, for example) close to where the card is being cloned, and when you type in your PIN to make a purchase, the criminals have all the information they need. That is why it is critical to protect your PIN when you are making a purchase. Cover the keypad with one hand and enter your information with the other. Don’t be afraid to shield the keypad with your body by “hovering” overtop.
These simple tips will also help you reduce your risk of becoming a victim of debit card fraud:
- Protect your PIN – it’s your electronic signature. Don't write it down – memorize it. Change it periodically.
- When selecting a PIN, always avoid the obvious: your name, telephone number, date of birth, and address. Make sure your PIN cannot be easily guessed if your debit card is lost or stolen.
- Never disclose your PIN to anyone. No one from a legitimate financial institution, police service, or business should ask for your PIN.
- Always conduct your ABM transactions when and where you feel most secure. If you are uncomfortable about using the machine for any reason, do it later or go to another location. If anything seems unusual about the ABM or point of sale terminal, don't use it – report the situation to police, the merchant or your financial institution.
- After completing a transaction, remember to take your card and your transaction record.
- If your card is lost, stolen, or is retained by an ABM, notify your financial institution immediately. Most institutions offer 1-800 telephone numbers and/or 24-hour service for lost or stolen cards.
- Regularly review transaction history online or your monthly bank statements and report anything unusual to your financial institution immediately.
If you are a victim of debit card fraud, you should contact your bank immediately and report the matter to police online at https://www.halifax.ca/police/NonDispatch/index.html or by calling 490-5016 if you live in Halifax Regional Police jurisdiction or 244-7208 if you live in an area policed by RCMP. It’s also a good idea to contact your credit bureau and have fraud alerts placed on your credit reports. Call Equifax Canada at 1-800-465-7166 (toll free) and TransUnion Canada at 1-877-525-3823 (toll free).
Tips adapted from RCMP Scams and Frauds website (http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/index-eng.htm)