How to protect yourself from debit card fraud

August 29th, 2011 Todd Means
Debit card fraud RS

The majority of us use debit cards many times a day – from ATM machines to point of sale terminals to accessing your bank account. This proliferation of use has lead to an increase in debit card fraud. And while you may not have control over phishers or other thieves, there are numerous things you can do to help avoid becoming a debit card fraud victim.

  1. Check your account on a regular basis and immediately report any suspicious activity. Also, make sure you review your statements to ensure you recognize all transactions.
  2. Be aware that skimming devices are often used to capture debit card information. Skimming devices are often affixed to ATM’s or merchant card processing equipment. If you see anything unusual don’t use your card. Also, whenever possible, run your own card to make purchases as opposed to giving it to someone else to run. Particularly if it involves the card leaving your sight.
  3. Avoid using equipment that may be located in unprotected, unsecure, or unmonitored areas. Temporary or seasonal sales kiosks are often targets for skimming.
  4. Never give your account or card number to someone calling you on the phone, even if the caller says it will be used to claim a prize or award.
  5. Store your card in a safe place.
  6. Never use your debit card as identification.
  7. Never lend your card to anyone else, or leave it in someone else’s possession as a “security deposit.”
  8. When you are expecting a new or replacement card, look for it in the mail. If it does not arrive as expected, contact the bank immediately.
  9. Review your credit bureau reports at least annually. This may be the only way to identify if you have been the victim of identity theft.
  10. Never carry your PIN in your wallet or with your card.
  11. Immediately report to the bank if your card is lost or stolen.
  12. If you use your debit card to shop online, we advise installing and regularly updating virus and spyware protection and a personal firewall to stop malicious software on your PC. Malicious software can be used to obtain account or card information.
  13. Only shop at reputable, known merchants, particularly online merchants.
  14. Never leave receipts where someone can pick them up.

In addition to your own efforts, most banks also have prevention tools in place. MidWestOne, for example, utilizes Falcon Fraud Manager, a state-of-the-art network technology that helps identify and reduce fraud risk by detecting potentially fraudulent activity. When suspicious activity is detected, a block may be placed on your card until the bank or Falcon staff can contact you to confirm the activity is authorized.

The truth is that fraud does occasionally occur, and if it does, banks will work with you to make it right. However, timely notification is essential to preventing any further fraud from occurring and in protecting your identity.

Todd Means

About the author

Todd Means is a Vice President at MidWestOne Bank. He works in the retail department, specializing in checking and savings accounts, consumer loans, auto loans and home equity loans.

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