Debit Card Fraud

To guard yourself from debit card fraud, follow these steps:

  • Keep your debit card in a safe place and never lend it to anyone.
  • Never give your personal identification number (PIN) or password to anyone, including friends, family, staff at your financial institution or the police. If you suspect that someone other than you knows your PIN, change it immediately and notify your financial institution.
  • Memorize your PIN and avoid writing it down. When you must do so, make sure that it is well disguised, for example, by re-arranging the numerals or substituting other numerals or symbols, and keep it within a record of other information that you store separately from your debit card.
  • When selecting a PIN do not use obvious information. The bank might not reimburse you for any money you lost if you used your name, address, telephone number, date of birth or social insurance number for your PIN.
  • If your card is lost, stolen or gets stuck in the bank machine, notify your financial institution immediately.
  • If you notice anything on your monthly statement that doesn't seem quite right (an extra or a missing purchase, for example), notify your financial institution immediately and change your PIN. It is possible that the information on your card has been stolen at a bogus machine and you may be targeted for theft.

When purchasing goods or services or when using a bank machine, remember these tips:

  • Never let your debit card out of your sight; swipe the card yourself, if you can. When you can't swipe it yourself, watch to make sure that it is not being double-swiped.
  • Watch out for "shoulder surfers"—people who read your PIN as you enter it. Use your hand or body to shield the keypad to prevent others from seeing you enter your PIN.
  • Only conduct debit transactions when and where you feel secure.
  • If anyone tries to distract you at a bank machine, complete what you are doing and retrieve your card and money before talking to the person.
  • After completing a transaction, remember to take your card and the transaction record.

If you've already been defrauded, notify your financial institution and the police. There are other steps you may wish to take as well. For more information on those steps and on how to protect yourself against debit card fraud, go to Protecting Yourself Against Debit Card Fraud, found on the Office of Consumer Affairs' website.

The Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Debit Card Services is a voluntary code that outlines consumers’ and the financial industry's responsibilities in debit card fraud. Visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to view the code.

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