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  • Don't get hacked at the ATM.

    by:
    Phil Brown

    The Canadian Antifraud Squad ‘March Fraud Prevention Month’ illustrates ways to be diligent against scams especially when using debit cards.

    Canada is argued to be the country with the most debit card users per capita in the world. There were about 37 million debit cards in circulation across the country in 2009.

    Debit-card users are protected by the Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Debit Card Services and will get their money back from their financial institution in cases of fraud.

    Canada also has a large number of debit card frauds using the skimming method, but the introduction of the micro-chip card technology is leading to that fraud’s decline.

    Debit card fraud happens when a thief “skims” or swipes the information off the magnetic stripe on the back of your card to create a duplicate of your card. They also have to capture your PIN to access your account. Debit card fraud can also happen if your card is lost or stolen and you haven’t taken steps to protect your PIN. It is probably beneficial to use numbers that are as simple as 1234, 0000 or 1111 or your birthday.

    Just last month seven men were arrested for ATM machine fraud due to a well thought out scam that hit the GTA.

    Here are some things you can do to protect yourself from fraudsters, courtesy of the Global ATM Security Alliance:

    Choosing a bank machine:

    •Where possible, use ATMs with which you are most familiar. Alternatively, choose well-lit, well-placed ATMs where you feel comfortable.
    Scan the whole ATM area before you approach it.

    •Notice if anything looks unusual or suspicious about the ATM indicating it might have been altered. If the ATM appears to have any attachments to the card slot or key pad, do not use it. Check for unusual instructions on the display screen and for suspicious blank screens.

    •If you suspect that the ATM has been interfered with, proceed to another ATM and inform the bank.

    •Avoid ATMs that have messages or signs fixed to them indicating that the screen directions have been changed, especially if the message is posted over the card reader.

    Using a bank machine:

    •Stand close to the ATM and shield the keypad with your hand when keying in your PIN ( you may wish to use the knuckle of your middle finger to key in the PIN).

    •Follow the instructions on the display screen, e.g. do not key in your PIN until the ATM requests you to do so.

    •If you feel the ATM is not working normally, press the Cancel key and withdraw your card and then proceed to another ATM, reporting the matter to your financial institution.

    •Keep your printed transaction record so that you can compare your ATM receipts to your monthly statement.

    •If your card gets jammed, retained or lost, or if you are interfered with at an ATM, report this immediately to the bank and/or police using the help line provided or nearest phone.

    Managing your ATM:

    •Memorize your PIN (and do not use your birthdate or part of your phone number as your password).

    •NEVER disclose your PIN to anyone, whether to family member, bank staff or police.

    •Do not use obvious and guessable numbers for your PIN like your date of birth.

    •Change your PIN periodically, and, if you think it may have been compromised, change it immediately.

    •Set your daily ATM withdrawal limit at your branch at levels you consider reasonable.

    •Regularly check your account balance and bank statements and report any discrepancies to your bank immediately.

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