One in seven Americans has been victims of debit or ATM card fraud. Unfortunately, there’ll always be someone trying to illegally obtain your personal information. The good news is you can take some easy steps to protect yourselves from debit card fraud. Let’s start with defining some of the common ways criminals collect card debit information.
Phishing: This is an email scam where criminals present themselves as legitimate businesses such as financial institutions or retailers in an effort to trick you into providing your personal data and account information. They try to convince you there’s an immediate need to update your financial or personal information.
Skimming and Cameras: Criminals use a skimmer, which is a card reader placed over the ATM’s point-of-sale (POS) terminal, or card slot, to obtain data from the magnetic strip on your debit card. Sometimes a camera is positioned so criminals can see the numbers you enter as your PIN. Most skimming occurs on ATMs and gas pumps because they’re easily tampered with and accessible.
Online Shopping: Criminals can easily create websites that look legitimate or even copy the look and feel of the real website. These sites capture your card and personal information for criminals to use as they please.
Smishing: Is always initiated over the phone. Criminals will call and attempt to get your financial and personal information. For example, someone calls with an irresistible offer, once you provide your debit card and personal information the call is disconnected.
Additional debit card fraud prevention tips:
You can avoid debit card fraud by using common sense and taking a couple extra minutes to double check a few things.
- Don’t open unsolicited emails, click on links included in the email or provide personal information to the sender.
- Pay attention to the card reader. Don’t swipe your card if it looks damaged or if the ATM looks dirty and in disrepair.
- If your card gets stuck in the machine, call your financial institution immediately.
- Shield the keypad with your hand as you enter your PIN.
- The payment page of a website is secure if the URL starts with “HTTPS” and has a picture of a lock.
- Shop online from well-known and trusted sites.
- If an item or offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Check your monthly statements and make sure there are no unusual charges.
- Let your financial institution and card issuers know your travel dates and destinations.
- Sign up for banking alerts through your financial institution for warnings on irregular card activity.
- Remember, legitimate companies don’t call to ask for personal information over the phone.
- Write down the phone number from the back of your debit card and keep it in a safe place so you can call if you suspect fraud.