Debit Card Fraud – How can you protect yourself?

Debit Card KnightProtecting Yourself Against Debit Card Fraud

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How can you protect yourself against debit card fraud?

Protect your debit card and PIN:

  • 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 (see "How does fraud occur?") and you may be targeted for theft. Always check with your financial institution to determine if any additional action is required to protect your card.


When purchasing goods or services or when using an ATM:

  • Never let your debit card out of your sight; swipe the card yourself, if you can't – watch to make sure that it is not being double swiped.

  • Watch out for "shoulder surfers" – people who read your PIN as you enter it.

  • Use your hand or body to shield the pin pad to prevent others from seeing you enter your PIN.

  • Only conduct debit transactions when and where you feel secure.

  • If anyone tries to distract you at a banking machine, complete what you are doing and retrieve your card before talking to them.

  • After completing a transaction remember to take your card and the transaction record.


Managing accounts:

There are concrete actions you can take to manage your accounts to help reduce your risk from fraud. You may also want to discuss precautions with other family members if they are particularly vulnerable to fraud. Talk to your financial institution to explore possibilities. Consider the following precautions, remembering that some of them may reduce flexibility and convenience as you manage your accounts:

  • Regularly check your statements or passbook updates and look for any discrepancies or suspicious transactions.
  • Know your daily cash withdrawals and daily purchase limits. If they exceed your needs, you may want to ask your financial institution to reduce those limits.
  • Check your authorized daily limits regularly. Financial institutions reserve the right to change withdrawal limits and thus you may not have noticed that your limits have increased.
  • Check which accounts your debit card currently accesses, e.g. lines of credit, overdraft, savings accounts, and contact your financial institution if you want to change this arrangement.
  • If you feel that a family member or dependent may be vulnerable to fraud, encourage them to talk with their financial institution about lowering their daily withdrawal limits. They could also ask their institution to hold the funds deposited by cheques until such cheques are verified to avoid the possibility of withdrawals being made against fraudulent deposits.