Counterfeiting or “Skimming” is the practice of criminally copying the magnetic stripe on a legitimate credit or debit card through a small handheld device called a “skimmer”. Criminals use the data captured by skimmers to clone and create fake payment cards. Counterfeiting can also occur at ATMs and cardholders are reminded to be vigilant when withdrawing cash. Your credit or debit card details can be used fraudulently, even when the card itself is safely in your care. As such it is vital to check your bank statements regularly. The sooner you spot and report any purchases that you didn’t do, the sooner the bank or financial institution that issued your card can stop the fraudster buying goods and services on your account.
Be prepared in case your card is lost or stolen. Keep a file with your card issuer’s telephone number on it or make sure the number is recorded in your mobile phone contacts list.
If you discover that your payment card is missing it is important to report it as soon as possible to your card issuer. Reporting the loss early means that the card can be blocked, preventing a criminal from gaining more funds than is necessary. An early stop on your card also means that the thief is unable to run up credit card bills in your name.
- Cut up expired cards. In particular, cut through the account number, chip and magnetic stripe before disposing of the parts carefully.
- Sign new cards immediately.
- Check your receipts against your bank statements regularly. If you see an entry on your account that you don’t recognise, inform your bank or card issuer who will investigate it for you.
- Keep financial information (e.g. bank account numbers, bank statements, ATM and sales receipts) in a secure place before disposing of it carefully. This will help prevent ‘dustbin raiders’ from acquiring information about you and your payment accounts.
- Keep your credit and debit cards in a safe place at all times. Treat them in the same way that you would treat cash. They are a key to your account after all.
- Are aware of the people around you when using a cash machine or when paying in a store. Be especially wary of anyone who might be trying to watch you enter your PIN. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted when using an ATM. This is a technique used by some thieves to capture ATM cards.
- Let your card out of your sight when paying for goods.
- Never write down your PIN (Personal Identification Number) and never disclose it to anyone, even someone who claims to be from your bank or the Gardaí. Neither should ever need to ask you to reveal your PIN.