In Canada, debit and credit card usage made up 57% of the country’s total of 21.1 billion transactions in 2018. Credit and debit more than doubled the number of cash purchases.
These days we can tap our card to pay for purchases and even pay in-app for goods and services.
In fact, Canadians are among the biggest per capita users of debit cards in the world. But does that put us at a higher risk for debit and credit card fraud? Here is what you need to know about both and how to protect yourself from unlawful use of your cards.
What is debit card fraud?
Debit card fraud happens when a thief swipes the information off the magnetic strip on the back of your card to make a duplicate card. But that’s not enough. A criminal has to also have your PIN to withdraw money or use it to make purchases.
Debit card fraud can also take place if your debit card is stolen or lost and your PIN is not secure. A whopping 18% of all PINs out there are 1234, 1111 or 0000. If you have an easy-to-guess PIN, you are increasing your chances of being defrauded.
What is credit card fraud?
Credit card fraud is similar to debit card fraud. A criminal can use your lost or stolen card to make purchases. Also, thieves don’t need your physical card. If they obtain the card number, expiry and 3-digits at the back of the card, they can use it to buy items online or over the phone.
Some criminals tamper with payment terminals at retail stores in order to allow those machines to copy card information so they can make a counterfeit card.
Are you at risk?
A successful credit card counterfeit is very unlikely. The microchip technology in your payment cards makes it almost impossible for criminals to duplicate. In fact, chip cards have reduced counterfeiting fraud in Canada by 76% since 2008 when these cards came out.
Also, the tap to pay technology that allows you to skip entering your PIN at many retailers is very secure. Contactless cards use a small radio frequency antenna and microchip which sends a unique, encrypted code that changes each time you use your card. These tap transactions are processed through the same secure networks used for credit and other Interac transactions.
Even though it is not easy for criminals to forge your card, there is still a chance they can access your accounts if your card is lost or stolen.
There are various things you can do to protect yourself against unlawful card use. First, make sure your PIN is not easy to guess. Never use common numbers, your birthdate, address, or part of your phone number as a PIN. It’s also a good idea to change your PIN periodically.
Get into the habit of reviewing your recent transaction history for both credit and debit cards. If you notice anything unusual, report it to your financial institution right away. If your card is lost or stolen, report it as soon as you notice that it is gone. Your card issuer will cancel that card so that no one can use it.
Also, major credit card companies offer protection against the fraudulent use of your card. Yet, it’s up to you to monitor your accounts and report any suspicious activity.
We hope this article has been useful in helping you to keep your accounts secure.
Have you been the victim of credit card fraud? Let us know in the comments.
Graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honors BA English Specialization and has completed several publishing courses at Ryerson University. She is a proofreader, editor, and content writer based in London, Ontario.