I chose this topic in lieu of the latest and the largest debit card breach that has hit India. Apparently details of as many as 3.2 Million debit cards were stolen and many people lost their money.
This breach has not only shaken the banking industry but it has also rendered the debit card users insecure.
Being an ex-banker I would like to throw some light on how to avoid Debit Card or internet banking frauds:
- Do not tell your ATM Pin to anybody: Your ATM PIN is an extremely important data which should not be shared with anybody. Some people are very naive and they give their details to family and friends and are robbed of their money. I have seen a few such cased in my banking career where family and friends have misused the debit cards of an account holder. I know it sounds outrageous but still I would encourage not sharing your PIN with anybody if possible.
- Do not use PIN which is easy to guess: Do not use obvious dates like birthdays and anniversaries as ATM PINS. They are comparatively easier to guess.
- Do not store your ATM or Bank Account details in your mobile phone: Many a time we hand over our phones to others and hence the ATM details become vulnerable. In case your mobile is stolen, the thief not only has access to your phone but also to your bank details.
- Avoid saving bank details on email: It can be a dangerous proposition. Email account hacking has increased a lot now a days. If your entire bank related data is on your email chances of money theft increase. It is not possible to know the very instance when your email account was hacked and it might be too late for your money as well.
- Try to memorise your ATM PIN : Instead of noting down your PIN try to memorise it. Still if you want to note it down, keep the details in a very secure place. Make sure they are not lying here or there just like that.
- Change your ATM PIN frequently: It is a safe measure to frequently change your ATM PIN or internet banking password. I know it is not always easy to remember so many passwords but it is still for your own sake. If your bank provides the facility of changing the ATM PIN through internet banking then go for this option instead of changing the PIN through an ATM machine.
- Avoid doing bank transactions on unsecured Wi-Fi networks: When you do transactions on unsecured Wi-Fi networks or Cyber cafes, the chances of your account being hacked increase manifold. Always try and do all your bank transactions at your home or on other secured Wi-Fi networks.
- Always use your personal laptops or PCs for doing any banking transaction: Avoid doing banking transaction is cyber cafes. Never use computers which are accessible to others for doing bank transactions. Avoid using even your office computers for such transactions. Many softwares are available for copying passwords and the likelihood of password stealth increases
- In case of urgency, use virtual keyboards : If at all a situation arises that you have to do a transaction from some computer freely accessible to others, use the virtual keyboard for entering the password. It is difficult to hack.
- In restaurants, malls or other POS keep your card in sight : If somebody insists on taking your card away to swipe, either ask for the machine to be brought to you or go with the concerned person. Never let your debit card out of your site.
- Practice caution while entering PIN at POS : Always try to hide the keyboard while entering your PIN at POS. I am not saying, doubt the integrity of the shopkeeper, but prevention is always better.
- Take SMS alerts: Take the SMS alert facility on your mobile number. So that you get intimations of every single transaction done from your account.
- Keep checking your accounts regularly: It may sometime happen that you do not get SMS from your bank for some reason. And hence, in order to keep a double check it is advised to check your account statement regularly.
- Avoid keeping all your money in a single account: Instead of keeping all your money in a single account you can keep multiple accounts. Some people think it is difficult to maintain multiple accounts. But if I use financial jargons, then it is actually diversifying your portfolio for minimising risk.
- Do not give in to fake calls asking your ATM details: Many people receive fake calls. The caller says either he is from Reserve bank of India or some other recognised bank. He/she will say that there some problem with your card or a new card is to be issued to you or an unauthorised transaction has been done from your cards. These callers will try anything from cajoling to threatening to get your ATM PIN. Please do not succumb to such calls. Trust me a genuine bank employee will never ever ask for your ATM PIN. In case of any problem, banks usually ask you to give an application duly signed or to raise a complain using internet banking.
- Don’t respond to emails asking your account information: Many a time we get emails asking for bank account details. Sometimes these emails are evidently spam but sometimes they really try to imitate those of banks and financial institutions. Do not give your bank details in response to such emails. They are all spam. No bank will ever ask you for all these details via email.
- Try withdrawing money from ATMs which have security guards: When there are ATMS with security guards, it is not very easy to tamper such ATMs. Likelihood of such ATMs being secured is very high.
- Avoid withdrawing money from open ATMS in Malls, Shopping complex: Always try and withdraw money from ATMS installed in separate rooms. Try and avoid withdrawing money from open ATMs in malls, shopping complex or other public places. Usually such places have cameras all over and your ATM PIN might not be so discrete. If you have to withdraw form such places, always cover the keyboard while entering the PIN.
- If at a shop you are asked to swipe ATM multiple times : There may be times when you are asked to swipe your card multiple times at a POS because of network problem or some other reason; then insist on paying in cash instead of card. Though the problem might be genuine but there is no harm in being extra vigil. Because frauds also happen by copying the magnetic strip details of the card.
- Keep Toll free numbers with you : Always have the toll free number of your bank’s debit card / internet banking/ credit card department and your bank branch with you. It comes in handy when there is a card theft or hacking of your internet banking account.
- Inform your bank immediately upon theft of your ATM card: In case of theft of your card, inform your bank immediately so that your card can be blocked. The greater the delay, the greater the likelihood of losing more money.
- After withdrawing money from ATM do not leave the machine till it has come to its normal welcome page : Always make sure that the machine has come to the welcome screen before you leave the ATM machine. Sometimes it may so happen then you forget the press the exit button or the machine has not accepted the command and your account is accessible to the next person who comes in to withdraw money. Undue advantage can be taken under such circumstances.
- Destroy the receipt that you get from ATM: Many people are in a habit of throwing their ATM transaction receipts in the bins without tearing them. It is a very wrong practice. The ATM slips also have some part of your account details. Hence one must be very discrete.