Be Vigilant, Not Victimized
Unfortunately, in today’s world, fraud and identity theft are a common occurrence, and that can make the world seem like a scary place. However, with a vigilant attitude and the right precautions, you can help protect yourself from being a victim of debit card fraud.
Being proactive can save you time and money, which is a far more effective strategy than simply waiting until something bad happens and trying to fix the damage after your money or your identity have been stolen. This article includes some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of debit card fraud.
Always Be Alert For Different Types of Debit Card Fraud
If you have online or mobile banking, check your accounts frequently for unauthorized charges. If you receive paper statements, be sure to review them promptly and thoroughly to check for unauthorized charges. Look out for amounts and merchant names that you do not recognize.
If you notice any unauthorized charges, report them to your financial institution immediately. Never wait to report fraud! Waiting can cost you money and makes it harder for law enforcement officials to catch up with the criminals. Don’t forget to request a new card and setup a new PIN when you report the unauthorized changes.
If you receive a phone call, email, or text message asking you to provide your account, debit card, or other personal information, do not respond. It is likely a scam called “phishing”. Sophisticated scammers try to impersonate someone you would trust to lure you into giving them your account information or personal information, to steal your money or your identity. Look up the phone number or email address of your financial institution yourself instead, contact them, and report the phishing attempt.
Write down the toll-free customer service number on the back of your debit card and keep it in a different location than the card. This way, you will have the number if your card is ever lost or stolen.
Shred expired debit cards. For additional protection, dispose of the pieces in multiple trash bags. If you are unable to shred the card, cut it into multiple pieces, making sure to cut through the number on the card. Shred old receipts and account statements you no longer need, as well as card offers you receive that you are not interested in
Online Debit Card Purchases
Consider using a dedicated credit card to make online purchases rather than a debit card. Regardless of the card you use for online purchases, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
- Make sure you use a secure connection, not publicly available WiFi.
- Only shop at trustworthy sites, not a website you’ve never heard of before.
- Make sure the site is secure. Look for “https” at the beginning of the web address or the lock symbol.
Protect Your Pin
Memorize your PIN instead of writing it down. If you have to write down your PIN, keep it in a different location than your debit card. For example, do not keep your PIN in your wallet or purse. Instead, explore alternatives for securing your PIN such as a locked drawer or a secure online site/mobile phone app designed for storing passwords and PINs.
Select a PIN that’s unique to this card and not the same one you use for other cards.
When entering your PIN at an ATM or a payment terminal, cover the keypad with your other hand to prevent any person or camera from seeing you.
Be alert for potential “skimming”. Skimming is when an illegal card reader has been attached to an ATM or payment terminal (such as a fuel pump) to read the magnetic stripe of your card. Look for signs of tampering, such as damage to the card reader or extra bulk on the card reader.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
If your debit card does not already have a chip, inquire with your financial institution about getting your card upgraded.
Sign up for transaction alerts so that when a transaction occurs on your debit card, you automatically receive a text or email message.