Not long back, crowded streets were the places where pickpockets resided and their skill and swiftness left holes in our pockets, literally. The modern day David Copperfield might not find that company in the London underbelly. Instead, he might bump into a sophisticated hacker who would need a minute, or better still, a second to pilfer your credit card data.
“Back in the beginning they got the imprint of the credit cards from the imprint they dug out of trash,” says William Noonan, assistant special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s special criminal investigation division. “Technology has changed things.”
This spring criminals hacked, phished or skimmed their way into the systems of Michaels Stores, Sony, marketing firm Epsilon, Citibank and even security expert RSA, among others. In some cases they only obtained names and emails. In the worst cases they got credit card numbers.
Debit card fraud occurs when a criminal gains access to your debit card number and in some cases, PIN, to make unauthorized purchases and/or withdraw your cash from your account. There are many different methods of obtaining your information, from unscrupulous employees to hackers gaining access to your data from a retailer’s unsecure computer.
When your debit card is used for fraudulently, the money goes missing from your account instantly. Payments you’ve scheduled or checks you have mailed may bounce; you may not be able to afford necessities and it may take awhile for the fraud to be cleared up and the money restored to your account. While you may not have any control over frauds, hackers and thieves, there are many things you can control that will help you avoid becoming the victim.
How to Detect Debit Card Fraud
1. Detecting a fraud is easy but the consequences which follow might be sweat inducing. The easiest way to spot problems early is to apply for online banking. Do it as soon as possible if you haven’t already as it helps in curbing problems early on. Keep tab of your recent transactions and balance on a daily basis. The sooner you detect fraud, the easier it will be limit its impact on your finances. If any unrecognized transaction catches your attention, call the bank right away. Or if you tend to forget, start hanging on to the receipt from your debit card transactions and then take out time to compare these against your debit card transactions.
2. If you don’t want online banking, many banks provide phone banking. In the very least, you should review your monthly bank statement as soon as you get them. A word of caution, though. It can take much longer to detect fraud using these methods.
3. Get banking alerts. In addition to checking your balance and recent transactions online daily, you can sign up for banking alerts. Your bank will then contact you by email or text message when any activity occurs on your account, such as withdrawal exceeding an amount you specify or a change of address.
4. Switch to paperless. Signing up for paperless bank statements will eliminate the possibility of having a bank account information stolen from your mailbox. Shredding existing bank statements and debit card receipt using a diamond cut shredder when you are done with them will greatly reduce the possibility of having bank account information stolen from your trash.
5. Don’t make purchases with your debit card. Use a credit card instead, because it offers greater protection against fraud.
6. Stick to bank ATMs as they tend to have better security (video cameras) than ATMs at convenience stores, restaurants and other places.
7. Destroy old debit cards. Some shredders will take care of that for you.
8. Don’t keep all your money in one place. Yes, refrain from this thing and distribute your money across accounts to reduce the chances of fraud at once. If your checking account is compromised, you want to be able to access cash from another source to pay for your necessities and meet your financial obligations.
9. Beware of Phishing scams. When checking your email or doing business online, be sure you know who you are interacting with.
10. Protect your computer. Use firewall, antivirus and antispyware software on your computer, and keep updated regularly. A little expenditure on these things will save you a hell lot of money and stress.
What To Do If It Happens To You
If you happen to learn that your debit card information has been compromised, contact your bank immediately to limit the damage the thief can do, and limit your financial responsibility for the fraud. Make contact immediately by phone followed up with a detailed letter stating the full name of the bank employee you spoke with, details of the fraudulent transaction, and any ideas you have about how your account may have been compromised. Ask your bank to waive any NSF fees that may be incurred because of the fraud and to restore the fraudulently withdrawn funds to your account. Hopefully, you should not face any trouble resolving the issue directly with your bank, but if you do, you have legitimate consumer advocacy groups at your disposal. There are also government organizations if your bank isn’t cooperating