Debits cards, as we all know, are widely replacing cash in wallets. Everyone is certainly finding it very convenient to carry a debit card instead of hard cash. This is because, unlike hard cash that can draw unwanted attention and even pose a threat, debit cards are safer and easier to carry.
Using a debit card over hard cash has its advantages, but it comes with a new set of associated risks. The debit card has a magnetic strip coded with secret information and a unique card number that criminals are on the lookout for.
Devices called ‘skimming’ or ‘swiping’ machines criminally duplicate the coded information in what is electronic theft. Fraudsters are also on the lookout for your secret PIN number. They can put together this information from your transcriptions slips dumped at ATM bins.
To protect yourself from such electronic frauds, you must always keep these six things in mind:
1) On Receiving a Debit Card: When you receive a debit card, check if your name has been accurately spelt. If there is an error, inform the bank immediately. To activate the debit card, the bank also provides a PIN or Personal Identification Number in a separate mail. Never note the PIN number on the debit card; memorize it and destroy all documents containing the PIN information. You can write it down or save it in your cell phone, but even that has its risks.
2) Safeguard Your Debit Card: Just as cash is kept in safe places like wallets and purses, make sure to keep debit cards in equally safe places. Do record all the important phone numbers of your bank, such as toll free, customer care and branch manager numbers on your mobile phone contact list. In case, you lose your card, call the bank immediately and ask them to block your card. To prevent misuse, never handover your debit card to anyone.
3) When Shopping, Never Lose Sight of Your Debit Card: Each time you use a debit card in shopping centers and malls, keep it in your sight. It is common for criminals to steal information from debits cards on ‘skimming’ or ‘swiping’ machines when the card is not in your sight.
4) Change Your PIN: It is advisable to change your PIN regularly (once in 3 months). If you suspect someone has noted your PIN, change it immediately. It can be changed at the bank branch or at an ATM. Never reveal or let anyone see you key in your PIN at an ATM. After the first use of a new debit card, one should ideally change the PIN provided by the bank immediately. When selecting a PIN, avoid using anything related to your personal information. Your birthday, anniversary, other relevant dates etc. are a strict NO.
5) Using Your Card at the ATM: Be alert about your surroundings when using a card at an ATM. Avoid using an ATM that looks dirty and unused for long. Remember to take your debit card after getting the cash and completing the automated transaction. Do collect the transaction receipts and check the account before you tear it up.
6) Cancelling Your Debit Card: For whatever reason, if you have closed your account or simply cancelled your debit cards, don’t forget to destroy the debit card. Cut it into four diagonal pieces across the magnetic strip. That is the best way to do away with a debit card.