New to plastic money? Here’s how to protect against debit/credit card fraud

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Updated: December 12, 2016 10:14:01 AM

The cash crunch caused by the Modi government’s demonetization drive has forced people to go digital and increasingly use alternative modes of payment such as credit and debit cards to meet their financial needs.

debit-card-reuters-lWe hereby suggest a few protective measures, especially to those who are new to plastic money, to keep their cards and money safe. (Source: Reuters)

The cash crunch caused by the Modi government’s demonetization drive has forced people to go digital and increasingly use alternative modes of payment such as credit and debit cards to meet their financial needs.The use of debit and credit cards, among all explored modes of payment, has suddenly increased in both online and offline transactions across the country. However, with plastic money increasingly becoming people’s way of life, it’s important to safeguard it to keep your money safe.

We hereby suggest a few protective measures, especially to those who are new to plastic money, to keep their cards and money safe:

Set an unpredictable PIN and protect it: When you apply for a debit or credit card, the bank sets up a personal identification number (PIN) which allows you to use the card. After receiving this number, you are required to change it for security reasons. Remember your PIN should not be easily guessable. Therefore, do not use your name, date of birth, address or any other personal information while creating your new PIN. Come up with a unique combination of numbers and memorize it.

You must avoid writing it down anywhere. “However, if you’re afraid you’ll forget your PIN, write it down and put it in a secure location. Remember, any unwanted access to your PIN could leave your account dry. Changing the PIN from time to time is recommended for further security. Also, while using your cards at ATMs or stores, make sure you are not being shoulder surfed,” says Adhil Shetty, CEO, BankBazaar.

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Create a strong password: While setting your password online, remember to use a long combination of alphabets, numbers, alphanumeric and special characters with upper and lower case. You could even try misspelling words to create a strong password. Using strong passwords also helps thwart hackers and protect yourself online.

Two-factor authentication is a must: For online transactions, a two-factor authentication ensures notification on your registered phone number each time your card is in use. A one-time security password is generated and sent to your phone, which needs to be keyed in order to complete a transaction.

“For PoS machines with merchants, you need to authenticate your transaction with your four-digit PIN, thus securing your transactions. This helps in preventing misuse of identity. If you receive any texts or notifications on your phone without trying to log in, you must immediately notify the bank,” says Shetty.

Swipe carefully: Watch out for scammers at ATMs and shopping outlets, as your financial information could get stolen while your card is in use at a bugged point-of-sale machine or an ATM. As the process only takes a few seconds, it often goes unnoticed by the card-holder. Make sure you use your cards at secure outlets and ATMs.

The old cards which come with magnetic strip are riskier than the ones with chips, as they can be easily duplicated and used for illegal transactions. So if you are still holding on to the old ones, it’s time to switch.

Beware of malware: Considering that your electronic device is a gateway to your banking account, be careful about the items you download and install, as a mistakenly clicked malware link could potentially spy on you and steal your personal data. Before you click on any link that pops up on your device, make sure it is an authentic one. Download items only from legitimate websites and app market places. Also, “keep your operating system updated and anti-virus up-to-date to fight digital vulnerabilities. If you log on to your bank account from a public computer, try using the virtual keyboard in order to thwart keyloggers that may be installed on devices to steal keyboard inputs for logins and passwords,” says Shetty.

Beware of phishing attacks: Phishing or stealing of sensitive information through fraudulent emails or phone calls is often used to find out passwords and other account details of a customer, which are then used to make unauthorized purchases or money transfers. Avoid responding to calls and emails from unconfirmed sources to prevent leakage of personal information. Also, don’t disclose your personal information and PIN even if someone claims to be a bank staff.

Be careful while disposing of documents: Your old bank statements, credit card bills and insurance premium details can land in wrong hands if not disposed of the right way. It can lead to stealing of personal financial information and transaction details. You must shred any such document once you are done using them to avoid identity theft.

Report loss of card immediately
Call the card issuer or bank as soon as you realize your card has been lost or stolen. Card-issuing companies provide toll-free numbers and 24-hour services for reporting missing cards. Once you report the loss or theft of your card, you won’t have any additional responsibility for charges you didn’t make.

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