Bank cards or debit cards are great. Instead of carrying around cash and loose change in your pocket, you have the luxury of paying for items and services via a plastic card. Although it is very convenient, bank cards have a huge risk attached to them. If they or related information fall into the wrong hands, initial owners can be victims of fraud. Unfortunately for some owners, not realizing in time that they have been victims can be very devastating.
It is very important to know that each time that you use your bank card, you can follow tips in order to protect yourself from fraud. Here are five that I use.
1. Plan Your Transactions
Make every attempt to use bank machines that are housed at a bank and not the stand alone automatic banking machines (ABM) usually placed at the corner stores or gas stations. Machines at banks are less likely to be equipped with card cloning devices that are associated with the independent ABMs. In addition, try to withdraw enough money that you need for a fixed period of time. The less visits you make to a machine, decreases the chance of being a victim of bank card fraud.
2. Be Aware Of Your Environment
It is important to know where the machine is located in relation to other individuals who may want to use the machine or just passing by the area. This holds true when you use the hand held debit machine when you have to pay at the store or restaurant. With individuals waiting in line behind or beside you, your personal identification number (PIN) can be easily seen if you do not shield your entry in the key pad. In addition, you should avoid having any discussions with anyone (especially small talk with strangers) during the payment transaction. Any sort of distractions could make you vulnerable to bank card fraud within seconds.
3. Avoid Card Swiping
Current bank cards use debit chip technology to prevent fraud. The chip (located on the left hand-side of your card) is intended to be inserted in a merchant’s terminal rather than the traditional swiping track. Swiping your cards will increase the chances of information being stolen from the black magnetic stripe on the back of your card. The stolen information can be used to make copies of your card. If you are forced to swipe your card at a particular store and restaurant, note where you used the card and the amount that your account was debited.
4. Check Your Statements
If you are a frequent user of your bank card, it is advised that you read your financial statements regularly. Whether you have access to it online or via mail on a monthly basis, it is essential to identify and report any kind of unusual banking transactions. Unusual banking transactions could be anything from large withdrawal of cash to the usage of the card on dates that you do not recall using it. Reporting the transactions to the bank immediately allows you to be protected via the Interac Zero Liability Policy. The policy insures that you do not suffer any financial losses due to fraud.
5. Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN)
If you have just started using a bank card or have a new card, do not share your PIN with friends or family members. Create a number that you will be able to remember easily in the future. It is recommended that you do not use easily guessable digits, like your year of birth or phone number. In addition, it is a good idea to change your PIN frequently.
Although a bank card is a convenient and time saving tool, it is the responsibility of owners to be aware of the ways of how others can easily obtain card information to gain access to funds in an account and take the proactive steps to prevent fraud.
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