NW suburban ATM thefts highlight debit card risks

September 23, 2010

Kresse, a.k.a. Prof. Fraud, is an Associate Professor at the Saint Xavier University Graham School of Management; director of the Center for the Study of Fraud and Corruption, CPA, attorney and certified fraud examiner.

Debit Card Fraud Tips

1. Use Cash or Credit Card, NOT Debit Card for retail transactions

Debit card
Amount of unauthorized withdrawals reduce your checking account balance instantly;
May take time before disputed amounts credited back;
Checks may bounce in the interim

Credit card Enhanced legal protections
Customer does not have to pay while unauthorized charge is disputed;
Credit card computers have sophisticated fraud detection algorithms which actively seek out anomalies

Cash - no access to either your credit account or checking account

2. Protect Account Information on Magnetic Stripe

Beware of phony card readers either placed over card slot or instead of usual card reader;
Be aware of possible phony "stand-alone" ATMs that ultimately do not dispense cash, but just capture account data

At retail locations
Do not give up possession of card
Suspect situations where you must hand over card

If handed over, do not lose sight of card - beware of the bogus card reader in the possession of the clerk

3. Protect PIN

Do not use default or simple PIN (1234, 0000, etc.), use a unique PIN
Do not write PIN on card, on Post-it on card, or on a note in purse or wallet (SXU study: 10.5% of identity theft due to picket pocket / purse snatching)
Do not tell extraneous friends or relatives your PIN (SXU study: 60.5% of identity theft by friends or relatives)

At both ATMs and retail locations:
Look for cameras, both security cameras and hidden pinhole cameras
Cover hand entering the PIN with your other hand

At retail locations:
Look for mirrors or reflective objects that clerk can use to see your PIN
Do not "mouth" the numbers while entering your PIN (amazing how many people do this!)

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