This isn't my actual card, FYI.
I checked my bank account one day last week to see I made a series of consecutive $500 withdrawals that day. In the process, I plunged myself into overdraft. "I should save more," I thought to myself.
Then I spit up the coffee I was sipping all over my computer screen and shouted, "WAIT A SECOND! Why did I withdraw thousands of dollars on this, a regular old Tuesday?"
[rssbreak]I'd been scammed. I wasn't carrying around wads of cash and didn't buy any designer jeans lately so there was no way I took out that much money. What the H?
As it turned out, a few debit transactions the night before ended up costing me way more than the retail price tag.
Without getting too much into that, let me just describe the unpleasant experience of debit card fraud. (Emphasis on unpleasant mine.)
First, I make a transaction at in-store Interac terminal in the Eaton Centre or whatever that big mall at Yonge and Dundas is now called.
Then, I get a call from my bank. The man on the phone calmly informs me of a "possible security breach." (I suppose this is better than being hysterical, but "a possible security breach" doesn't accurately describe all my money vanishings, IMHO.)
Following the call, I check my account and see the damage. I call to find out I need to go have a chat in-person at my nearest branch. Here is where the teller (or whoever he was) asks a series of mildly silly questions like "does anyone have access to your card? Wife or girlfriend? Exgirlfriend?" By this point I'm getting genuinely concerned, and the implication that all this fuss was cause by a scorned lover stealing my money is ignored.
Then, the bank launches a 10-business day investigation before it informs me whether they will be reimbursing my lost and (in most cases) hard-earned cash. That's two weeks without any coinage. (It gets embarrassing when you're charging a bottle of Perrier to your credit card, BELIEVE ME.)
And to cap it all off, the thieves put me into overdraft, and so far I'm still on the hook for those fees.
If anyone questioned why unpleasant was bolded earlier in this post, well, now you know. It's unpleasant, and should be avoided.
So, at the risk of sounding like a public service announcement, here's quick list of how to avoid debit card fraud:
- Protect your PIN. It's not just a sticker at the ATM.
- Never swipe your card twice, or at least be careful doing it. This is a sign something is afoot.
- Try to avoid sketched-out ATMs.
- Check your balance regularly.
- Have seperate accounts. They usually just access the account you used at that debit transaction.
- Notify the bank when you're out of town or making gigantic purchases. It sounds like something only old people do, but it does help them catch criminals making big-ticket purchases like trips to EuroDisney on your dime.
- Don't reveal your PIN to romantic interests. This seems obvious, but, since the dude at the bank includes it in as routine question, it probably happens more than I think.
- Pay with cash. Banks are evil anyway. I'm considering changing all my money in for Euros. I don't know if that would prevent theft, but it would look really cool.
- And finally, get your debit card outfitted with one of those debit chips!