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How to protect your cards from frauds?

By K Ramalingam
June 27, 2016 12:21 IST
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Fraudsters are always one step ahead of you as well as the security systems adopted by banks to prevent card frauds. Nevertheless, frauds do happen. What you can do though is protect yourself and minimise such frauds by following these simple rules.

Recently, when a friend of mine called me, I could sense the tension in his hurried voice. He said that someone purchased jewellery worth Rs 115,000 using his credit card in Bangalore, when his card was safely inside his wallet in Chennai. I consoled him and asked him to talk to the bank immediately. Even though he was not charged by the bank after they confirmed that the purchase was not done by him, the mental torture he underwent was unbearable.

But this incident made me think aloud:

How can we protect our credit cards, debit cards from such frauds online as well as offline?

Is there really a way to escape from credit card cyber attacks?

Will RBI and banks do something to stop it?

Yes, RBI has implemented key measures to enhance better security on credit and debit cards, some of which are:

  • Banks must issue international credit and debit cards that are EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa), chip-based, and pin-enabled
  • Magnetic strips are no more issued in the new cards. The active cards with magnetic strip will have a newly set daily limitation
  • The terminals used by the traders as well as the infrastructure used to make card payments must have payment-data security standard certificates
  • If any suspicious purchases are witnessed, easy to use and quick modes are implemented for customers to block the card and for banks to check with the customer if they have witnessed any frauds on their cards

Okay, banks are taking action. But, does it mean that you and I are 100 per cent safe from credit card crimes?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. You are not 100 per cent protected just by banks implementing safety measures in their systems.

Will you keep your doors open while going out just because you have police patrolling the area? No, right? Likewise, you must take responsibility to protect yourself from such card frauds. You must take precautionary measures while using ATM cum debit cards and credit cards online and offline.

So, what should you do to minimise the chances of being a victim of ATM cum debit card theft?

  • Always scan the area before entering the ATM room. If there is only one machine, do not allow anyone to enter in while making a transaction. You can politely tell them to come in after you are done. If you suspect any threat, come out quickly and get into a safer place where there are people around you.
  • In case of two or more ATM machines in the same room, always cover the area with your hands while entering pin number and do not allow others to view the same.
  • Do not use ATM machines that are located in dark or isolated areas. Always use the machine which is associated with a bank or where a security guard is present.
  • Check with your banks and register for SMS alert whenever the card is being used. You will be notified on each transaction. In case of anyone else using your card, you will be notified immediately.
  • Keep the transaction receipts safely until verifying the same with your bank statements.

Carelessly used pin numbers are the reasons people become a victim of debit card crimes. What can be done to protect the pin?

  • Change the pin numbers as frequently as possible
  • Do not write pin numbers anywhere, definitely not on the card
  • Do not keep the card and the pin number you received from the bank in the same wallet or bag
  • Do not keep the easily recognised numbers like your birthday, marriage day as your pin
  • Always use strong passwords as advised by the banks

How to protect your credit and debit cards while using in retail outlets, shops, restaurants or petrol pumps?

  • Many a time the employees in the restaurants or petrol pumps join hands with the group to commit such cyber crimes. They swipe your card in the skimming machines where the details are recorded to make duplicate cards.
  • Present yourself while the employees in the retail outlets swipe your card for billing. Check your card after swiping in the retail outlets. If you feel any changes like glue, damaged part while touching or if you are not able to insert it in ATM machines, inform your bank immediately and block the card.
  • Try to swipe the card by yourself while trading in shops. Cover CVV number with your hands so that the person at the receiving end cannot view it or hide the CVV number with a marker before using it.
  • Always check the bill amount in the receipt before signing it. If you see a blank space between net and total amount, cross the space before signing.

How to protect your credit and debit cards while using online?

  • Online purchases also lead to credit card thefts.
  • Always use the secured website where the url starts with 'https://'. Check for 's' and do not use sites that have just 'http://'.
  • Always use the virtual keyboard to enter the details. Banks also offer virtual credit card. Opt for them and avoid being a victim.
  • Keep track of all online transactions and cross check with bank statements/credit card bills.
  • If you are changing the address, inform your bank immediately, so that any communication from the bank does not get into wrong hands. Never use your credit or debit card with or without your photo as your ID proof. Be it through emails or in person, do not give your bank details, credit card numbers along with passwords to anyone even they identify themselves as a bank employee.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

K Ramalingam, CFP CM, is the Chief Financial Planner at holisticinvestment, a leading financial planning and wealth management company

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K Ramalingam
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