Keep Your Debit Card Secure article photo

Want to Protect Your Debit Card from Fraud?

Jan 13, 2022
By Charles Broe, AVP of Asset Protection

The Fraud Prevention Tips No One Else is Telling You

When it comes to your security, everything’s changed.

Thieves have easier access to your information – including your debit card credentials – thanks to technological advances. And they never need to have your debit card in their physical possession to use it. Imagine finding charges on your statement to a store you’ve never been to. Or trying to use your card only to find out your account’s been wiped out.

According to Payments Journal, 25% of consumers reported incidences of debit card fraud in 2020, up from 17% in 2018.

But there is good news:

There are simple things you can do every day to make it harder for potential debit card fraudsters. Charles Broe, AVP of Asset Protection at MHV, dishes up some tips – some of which you might not have heard before.

Stay Aware

One of the most important things to do is listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore that. If you’re using the ATM and someone is lingering, leave and use a different ATM. If you’re suspicious or afraid, it’s OK to call the authorities. Simply staying alert and aware of your surroundings is often the best defense.

"Put your money, debit card, and receipt away before you leave the ATM. Otherwise, you’re exposing yourself as an easy target.” Charles Broe, AVP Asset Protection

Check for Skimmers

Skimmers are devices that thieves will place over the legitimate card reader that will capture your debit card information. They can then use that information to make purchases. While these devices can be hard to see, a simple and gentle pull will often loosen them. Before you use a debit card reader at locations like ATMs or gas pumps, check to be sure there is no skimmer attached. If there is, do not use your card. Notify the manager immediately.

Fraudsters may also place an overlay on top of the keypad. This records your PIN when you type it in. Be alert to a keypad that isn’t flush to the rest of the machine or that looks like it’s been tampered with.

Examples of ATM Skimmers

skim devices

Switch Your Access Card

Did you know you can access secure after-hours ATM locations with any credit card? The lock just needs to read a magnetic strip. You don’t have to use the card that you plan to use at the ATM. And using a different card to access the ATM than you use to withdraw money is a great way to protect yourself from fraud.

When you use the same card to access after-hours locations and then withdraw money – and fraudsters have installed a skimmer on the door lock – they can then connect your PIN to your card. And of course once they have that information they can use your card without you knowing it. But if you use a different card, you will make it more difficult for a thief to connect a specific PIN to a specific card.

Just over a third of all consumers who filed a fraud report with the FTC in 2020 - 34% - reported losing money, up from just 23% in 2019.

Observe the ATM Before Using it

Before using an ATM, run through this quick checklist:

  • Are the security cameras clear or obscured? If it looks like someone has tried to obscure the cameras, stop and use a different location.
  • Does the keypad seem intact, or does it seem loose or “squishy”? Does it lay flush with the rest of the machine? If it feels loose or is raised above the rest of the machine surface, an overlay could have been placed on top by a fraudster.
  • Is the card reader secure or loose? If it feels loose, a skimmer could be on top.
  • Are there any pinholes? Pinholes indicate fraudsters may have placed a camera in the machine to record your PIN number.

Get more fraud prevention insights from Charles Broe in his mini webinar here.

You can also compare the machine you’re going to use with one next to it, if possible. If anything seems out of sorts with the machine, do not use it.

Percentage of consumers reporting debit card fraud

Be Cautious of Where You Shop Online

“If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Sure it’s a cliché, but it’s also accurate. And scammers love to set up shop on the internet and “sell” products at amazing prices. And we, as consumers, can’t say no to a good deal. With the surge in social media advertising, it’s impossible to avoid ads with unbeatable products and prices.

But here’s the thing:

There’s a chance that company is just a ruse to get your card information. If you’re not buying from a trusted site, do your research. Check out reviews (not just the ones listed on the social media or website). And if you do decide to buy something, pay close attention to any activity on your account following the purchase.

According to the FTC, online shopping was the second-most common fraud category reported by consumers in 2020.

Here at MHV we take your safety and security seriously. We offer fraud alerts on both your MHV Visa® Debit Card and Credit Card, giving you instant notifications of suspicious activity on your card. Our Fraud Services will also monitor your card for suspicious activity and put a temporary hold on it to prevent fraudulent use. We monitor our ATMs and Personal Teller Machines regularly for the use of skimmers or camera concealment.

Shopping and accessing your accounts with your debit card is hard to beat for convenience, and following the tips outlined above will help you to continue to use your debit card with confidence.

Want the most important thing to do every day to help protect yourself from fraud? Find out in this 7-minute Friday Financial episode. Watch the episode

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