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Debit Card Fraud-How To Protect Yourself

Updated on December 27, 2015
CrisSp profile image

CrisSp is your Emergency Specialist at 37 thousand feet. A writer without a niche. Surely, wonderwoman consumed by wanderlust!

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Debit Card Fraud
Debit Card Fraud | Source

Back from a red-eye flight, I sat on my computer to check my email, social networking sites and my HubPages. It's 3:30 AM. I’m sipping my favorite blueberry-pomegranate mixed organic tea when my instinct snapped and told me to check my bank account. Just like that, so I did.

I almost fainted and it felt like a mini heart attack when I saw 3 strange transactions on my chequing account: 2 purchases under UNIQUE (merchant) and an ATM withdrawal from a non-ATM machine for a total of almost a thousand dollars. This prompted me to call the Bank’s 24/7 line to inquire and report the unknown transactions. I have no idea what are all these and the fact that I was away-airborne at the time of these transactions, it was indeed alarming.

I did not manage to speak to anyone on the phone but I left a message twice to alert the bank of the matter. Then I couldn’t sleep anymore. I tossed and turned, waited for 8AM and then drove to my nearest banking institution.

At the bank, I requested to speak directly to the manager who happens to be very accommodating and truly helpful. After explaining what I thought was very suspicious transactions, we called the 1-866 number for Theft and Loss Prevention. Upon verification of pertinent information, the transactions were then verified to be fraud. The agent on the Theft and Loss Prevention explained that this is now rampant and sadly epidemic. Although, I was given a re-assurance that my money will be reimbursed to my account within 2-3 business days, it scares me now to use my debit card just like that and I was restless the rest of the day.

Quick poll

Have you ever been a victim of this debit/credit card hacking?

See results

5 Notorious places to avoid swiping your credit/debit card:

Apparently so, there are 5 notorious places that we should avoid swiping our credit/debit cards:

1. Outdoor ATM locations

2. Convenience Stores

3. Gasoline Stations

4. Movie Theater/houses

5. Restaurants

Electronic hacking is scary!

Skimming off the top~

In my case, I suspect it is from McDonalds, where I last used my debit card. I have heard of a friend who was victimized from a movie house and another one from a gasoline station and then I’ve read a similar experience where it actually happened at McDonalds. I never thought it would happen to me.

I was petrified. The last place I used my debit card prior to the incident was at Highland Farm for an $8 sundry purchase and for $6.99 at McDonalds for a happy-meal chicken nuggets and a regular French fries, not upsize. But, I have been victimized by Canada’s super-sized debit card fraud and I’m so upset. This prompted me to write this Hub to share my experience and promote awareness on Debit card fraud.

Although victims of debit card fraud are protected by the Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Debit Card Services, it can traumatize you, considering the anxiety and the hassle that you have to go through.

Debit Card Fraud
Debit Card Fraud | Source
Protect your Debit Card password
Protect your Debit Card password | Source

What is Debit Card Fraud?

Debit card fraud is when your card has been compromised. It happens when the information on your debit card has been duplicated and used to obtain money from your account without authorization. Thieves have a way to skim or swipe this information from the magnetic strip on the back of your card and in order to steal money from your account; they also have to capture your PIN. They have a high-tech way to do so, which could be ostensibly hard to recognize.

Debit Card Skimming

Did you know?

42% of Americans had experienced some form of payment-card fraud in the preceding five years. Source: economist

What to do when your Debit Card is compromised?

1. Report it immediately by calling the bank or better yet drop by in person as soon as possible.

2. You may also want to contact your credit bureau and asked them to place fraud alert on your credit reports.

3. Always report debit card fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

The spread of chipped cards in Canada brought losses from skimming—stealing data from credit cards—from C$142m ($129m) in 2009 to C$38.5m in 2012.
The spread of chipped cards in Canada brought losses from skimming—stealing data from credit cards—from C$142m ($129m) in 2009 to C$38.5m in 2012. | Source

7 ways to protect yourself against Debit Card Fraud and misuse?

1. Keep your card in a safe place. Don’t lend it to anyone, not even your best friend.

2. Do not disclose your PIN (Personal Identification Number). Your PIN is your electronic signature. Know it by the heart and try to change it from time to time.

3. Select a PIN that is unique and hard to guess. Avoid anything that is closely associated to your personal information like telephone number or date of birth.

4. Use only legitimate ATM locations; avoid non-ATM terminals like convenience store or small disreputable places.

5. It is imperative to protect your PIN. Use your hand or your body as a shield from onlookers when typing on your PIN.

6. Remember to take your card and the transaction record with you before you leave.

7. Make it a habit to regularly check your transaction history or your bank statements. Immediately report any unusual transactions to your bank.

Debit/Credit Cards
Debit/Credit Cards | Source

Cash Against Slash

No, it’s not a matter of life and death, but for most people specially those who are living pay-cheque to pay-cheque, that thousand dollar is quite substantial (no exaggeration) to be without until it is returned to the account. So, I strongly recommend, do not delay. Report it in time!

And lastly, be very cautious with your debit transactions. Contrary to the old sayings: “It is only the poor who pay cash, and that not from virtue, but because they are refused credit” by Anatole France, I will now be paying cash as much as possible instead of swiping and slashing my debit/credit card. That way, I stick to my budget too. I'm not saying I'm poor. I'm also not rich. I consider myself blessed and unfortunately victimized. Now charging it to experience.

Copyright@CrisSp~TM/03/11/12. Fearless but not Heartless!

© 2012 CrisSp


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    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      liesl5858: Thank you and yes, I'm quite paranoid now about it and back to the practice of using cash instead since then. Take care.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      FlourishAnyway: Whaaat? But, HD is my second home since moving into this new place. You know, renovations, upgrades, DIY and all that stuff due to watching too much HGTV? Gotta be really careful now and I mean, seriously careful! :)

      Thanks for letting us know. I actually didn't know.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      DealForLiving: Wise...

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 

      4 years ago from United Kingdom

      CrisSp, I am sorry to hear that you became a victim of credit card fraud. There are a lot of identity fraud this days especially here in England where people use credit or debit cards to pay for things and food. We all got to be aware of it. Thanks for sharing your personal experience regarding identity thief. It helps us to be careful in using our bank cards. I will go back to the old days when we pay cash for everything.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      There's news today that Home Depot is just the latest among stores that have encountered credit card/debit card data breaches -- i.e., fraud. Whether it's on a one-by-one case or large scale, having your data compromised can devastate your trust even if it does not devastate you financially. Sorry about your experience.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 

      4 years ago from Earth

      And that's why I don't use debit cards...

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      bravewarrior: Hello Sha! It's indeed scary and feels like a mini-heart attack finding about it. It could happen to anyone. So, be careful. Thanks for reading. Good to see you here.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Scary stuff, Cris. $1,000 out of my account would devastate me.

      I do keep a close watch on all my statements. I save receipts and immediately report anything that shows up that seems to be amiss. Fortunately, this only happened to me once and my bank took care of it immediately. It wasn't a debit card but a credit car.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Hello erinshelby! Thank you for your readership. I also appreciate your time leaving a comment. Indeed, Card fraud is one serious problem. Be careful!

    • erinshelby profile image


      5 years ago from United States

      Card fraud is a serious problem. Glad to see you are helping increase awareness of this important issue.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Indeed, kitkat1141. We all need that constant reminder from time to time and be very cautious. I get paranoid now on slashing my debit card and my credit card. Sorry to hear about your bad experience. Take care and thanks for dropping by.

    • kitkat1141 profile image


      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very good information. I was the victim of identity theft a few years ago. It is important to look at every transaction in your account to make sure something isn't amiss. Many people have no idea what is coming and going from their accounts, and these crooks are hoping you won't pick up on the missing money.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Good point there coffeegginmyrice but I was affected with paranoia after the incident. I now prefer paying cash and have since then limited my stashing. It was actually helpful in other ways too like learning how to control my spending and stick to the budget. Extra savings when I go the Chinese Market, no tax if I pay cash. :) That's a big savings of 13%!

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Thank you Carol. My goal is to increase awareness and I do hope that these scammers would cease. They're like gangsters. They do recruit people who are starving for money to get other people's money. I hope they all get caught and be locked-up. This scamming has to stop! Take care.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      I had the same experience that swiped out my earnings. It happened at a zoo restaurant here. That was the only time in the day I had used my card (and this was my debit card). Sadly, it is sometimes late when we feel a pinch to check our bank account(s), then, it is there you realized that you were robbed...days had passed. So, I got the same good advice like what you've helpfully shared and mentioned in this hub...sources/places where theft on credit/debit cards happen. But can we all really avoid it? My goodness, I am not even in the habit of carrying cash with me anywhere. Same thing, if I lose my wallet, all cash would go with it. I do keep the Theft & Loss Prevention number handy. Keep it on your cellphone. So immediately, once you notice something's gone wrong, you can make that instant phone call.

      Good you shared this Cris! Passing it around as a helpful reminder. Thanks!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Good hub and a wakeup call for us who are a bit complacent. Thanks for bringing this up with your personal story. There is a lot of t his going around these days. Voted UP and sharing.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      That's interesting! I once tried to use mine when I was in Dubai and Bahrain for a quick trip and it was rejected but was able to use it at the Duty Free here in Toronto. Maybe just not in the Mid East? (:-

    • infonolan profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      I just used mine internationally when ordering the new Amedei Easter Eggs that I recently hubbed about. It was an online purchase. Though my provider does charge a $2.75 fee for overseas transactions.

    • CrisSp profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Hello Infolan! Thanks for dropping by my Hub. Yes, VISA gift cards is a good idea too, however, you can't use it international. :( Oh well...

    • infonolan profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      Perhaps buying VISA gift cards is a better idea than using a normal credit card at the store, less chance of fraud I suppose. ;)


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