Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Avoiding Debit Card Fraud Ode

Consumer Tips: Debit Card Fraud

With approximately 36,000 ABM machines, and some 460,000 direct payment terminals in more than 350,000 businesses across Canada, it's not surprising that Canadians are the highest per-capita users of debit cards in the world. Recent media stories have reported debit card fraud and the need for consumers to take proper precautions to protect themselves.

Beware of retailers that swipe your card twice. The second swipe may be on a card reader that skims your personal bank information from the magnetic strip. Thieves create fraudulent cards with this information, which enables them to take money from your bank account. First, however, they must get your personal identification number, or PIN.

They do this by what is termed "shoulder-surfing" (peering over someone's shoulder when they punch in their four-digit personal identification numbers), in some instances they also use concealed cameras, installed in the ceilings above automated teller machines, which photograph the PINs.

Follow these tips to protect your money and your debit cards against fraud and misuse:
* Never disclose your PIN to anyone - including family, friends, financial institution employees or law enforcement agencies.
* Keep your debit card in a safe place and never lend it to anyone. If you suspect that someone knows your PIN, change it immediately or contact your financial institution to cancel the card.
* Memorize your PIN. Avoid writing down your PIN. If you must do so, make sure that it is well disguised, for example, by re-arranging the numerals or substituting other numerals or symbols, and by keeping it within a record of other information.
* When selecting a PIN, do not use obvious information. You could be liable if you use your name, address, telephone number, date of birth or social insurance number.
* If your card is lost, stolen, retained by an ATM, or you find that there has been an unauthorized transaction, notify your financial institution immediately.
* If you have made a purchase which does not appear on your monthly statement, change your PIN immediately and notify your financial institution as the information on your card and PIN may have been stolen at a bogus machine.

For more information on common fraud and scam practices, and how to best prevent them, visit the Canadian Consumer Information Gateway at, a Web site developed by Industry Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs. Created by federal, provincial, territorial governments and their partners, it provides Canadians with access to hundreds of objective, reliable, current consumer information sources.

News Canada provides a wide selection of current, ready-to-use copyright free news stories and ideas for Television, Print, Radio, and the Web.

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