Tips: ATM, Debit Card Safety

To launch ATM and Debit Card Safety Awareness Month, PULSE offers tips to encourage consumers to remain vigilant about safety while using debit cards at ATMs and point-of-sale terminals.

“The recession has prompted consumers to use their debit cards more often than other payment methods, but with frequent use comes the increased potential for fraud,” said Jim Cichy, PULSE vice president of fraud management. “To keep money safe and secure, consumers need to better understand how to work with their financial institution to combat security compromises and fraudulent use of financial information.”

  • To enjoy the many conveniences of debit and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of fraud, consumers should keep these recommendations top of mind:
  • Keep your PIN a secret: Memorize your personal identification number (PIN), never write it on your card or store it with your card. Never let someone else enter your PIN for you. Many security experts recommend changing your PIN often and using different PINs for different accounts. These are steps that make it more difficult for criminals to use your card if it’s lost or stolen.
  • Do not disclose information about your card over the telephone: No company or individual should ever ask for your PIN, not even your financial institution. If you perform transactions over the telephone using your debit card, never disclose your PIN.
  • Never disclose information about your card in response to an unsolicited e-mail or request: E-mail is a common channel for perpetrating fraud. Never provide your debit or credit card number, PIN or any other non-public personal information to any entity in response to an unsolicited e-mail or request. Your financial institution will never send you an e-mail asking for your PIN.
  • Make certain your Internet shopping sites are secure: Look for secure transaction symbols when shopping online to ensure your account information is protected. These include a lock in the lower right corner of your browser window and a web address that begins with “https.” Always log off from any site after you make a purchase. If you can’t log off, close the browser to prevent unauthorized access to your account information.
  • Report a lost or stolen card at once: Immediately call your financial institution if your card is lost or stolen to reduce the chance that it will be used improperly. Immediate notice of lost or stolen cards will also limit your potential liability for unauthorized transactions.
  • Review your account statements for unauthorized transactions: Review all account statements from your financial institution promptly, and report any errors (including transactions you believe may be unauthorized) as soon as possible. Most financial institutions offer secure online access to accounts. Online access to checking accounts can help you spot suspicious activity quickly. Prompt notification will limit your potential liability for unauthorized transactions.
  • Protect your card’s magnetic stripe: Do not expose your card’s magnetic stripe to magnetic objects. Magnetic objects can damage your card.

Additional measures you can take include:

  • Never allow a cashier or any other person to enter your PIN for you, even if they are assisting you with the transaction.
  • Block the view of others when using an ATM or PIN debit terminal.
  • Be certain your ATM or debit transaction is complete and review your receipt before leaving.
  • If you receive cash back from a transaction, put it away before leaving.
  • When using an outdoor ATM or debit terminal, such as a gas station, always observe your surroundings before making a transaction.
  • When using an outdoor terminal, if anyone or anything appears to be suspicious, leave the area at once.
  • If an ATM appears to have any attachments or alterations to the card slot or keypad, do not use it; report the tampering to the ATM owner immediately.
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