Protect your personal banking debit card: A case study
Walter preferred to use his debit card for shopping as well as personal banking because he thought it was more convenient and safer than carrying cash. One day, after depositing a check and doing other personal banking at an ATM, he went to a store he had never visited and paid for his purchase with his debit card. He thought the card reader looked damaged, and joked about it with the cashier. “It looks like it’s time to replace this card reader—it’s falling apart.” The cashier laughed.
When he looked at his account the next week, he was shocked to see there was no money in his personal banking account. Looking at the online statement, he saw several debit card purchases he did not make. Worse, he was overdrawn by over $500.
He visited his bank, where the customer service rep told him, “All the purchases were made by someone who used your personal identification number (PIN).” The bank’s security manager told Walter it seemed someone had tampered with the card reader in the store and had used the store’s security video monitors to record his PIN. This allowed that person to access Walter’s account and make fraudulent purchases.
The bank agreed to remove the fraudulent charges from Walter’s account. Then they told him how he could protect his debit card and PIN in the future.
How debit card fraud happens
Fraudsters and thieves are always ready to take advantage when you let your guard down on personal banking.
- They might alter a card reader or ATM to copy your card and record your PIN.
- They might watch you enter your PIN and then steal your card.
- They might tamper with an ATM so your card jams, then while “helping” you get it out, memorize your PIN and/or steal your card.
To use your card, a fraudster needs the data on the card itself, or a copy of it, plus your personal identification number (PIN). Protect them both. Once criminals have this information, they can get the money in your personal banking account.
How to protect your debit card and PIN
- Memorize your personal banking PIN. If you have to write it down, do not keep it in your wallet or purse.
- When selecting your PIN, don’t use your birthday, address, name, telephone number, names of pets or anything that someone else could easily guess.
- Never tell anyone your PIN, not even close friends or family. Telling anyone else your PIN can remove any anti-fraud protection you would otherwise be entitled to.
- Do not give your PIN to any employee of a financial institution—they have no need for it. If someone posing as an employee of a financial institution or law enforcement agency asks for your PIN, you should suspect fraud.
- Never use a card reader or an ATM that appears damaged or as if someone might have tampered with it.
- Cover the card reader with your free hand when entering your PIN. Be aware of other people around you who might be watching, as well as of video cameras.
- Check your personal banking statement or online account regularly, and inform your bank about anything you don’t recognize or understand.
- If you made a purchase with your card that does not appear on your monthly statement, notify your financial institution. The card reader might have been tampered with to steal your card data and PIN.
- If you lose your debit card, notify your financial institution immediately.
- If you suspect you’ve become a victim of debit card fraud, contact your financial institution and the police immediately.
For more information on lost or stolen debt cards, visit the Federal Trade Commission website. You can rest assured First Utah Bank is committed to your safety in personal banking in Mill Creek Utah and beyond.