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Fraud awareness a priority as credit and debit card use continues to rise

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Businesses must protect themselves and their customers

Consumer spending is on the rise as COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the country, prompting restrictions to ease. While most signs are pointing towards an economic recovery, consumers should remain vigilant when it comes to where they choose to swipe their credit and debit cards.

In addition to in-person shopping, the pandemic has fuelled the need for new financial technology that makes it effortless to use your smartphone to buy, invest and save. Despite the affordable and instant service that’s provided, there’s never a guarantee that personal information will be fully protected when it’s sent into the ether.

A Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) survey1 found nearly 75 per cent of respondents reported having received fraudulent requests in 2020, and one out of three (33 per cent) said they had fallen victim to fraud at least once in the past. CPA Canada highlights one of the ways to catch illegal activities when it comes to your finances is to review and track your banking and credit card transactions at least once a month. The survey notes while 82 per cent of respondents already review their transaction history monthly, only 39 per cent have set up text or email alerts for transactions, which can help catch unauthorized behaviour almost immediately.

Financial institutions like HSBC Bank Canada take credit card fraud very seriously and have highly sophisticated security systems and teams of experts in place to monitor transactions, protect customer information, and prevent and detect credit card fraud. Security measures are constantly being enhanced and new, cutting-edge technology adopted mid-pandemic is being tested to prevent cyberattacks.

At HSBC Bank, our debit and credit cards use EMV chip technology that can help safeguard personal information for purchases in stores. This technology allows the card and the store terminal to communicate with each other during the transaction and carry out security checks to ensure the card is valid. The microchip is state-of-the-art in payment card technology and is extremely difficult to duplicate.

While there are many sophisticated security systems in place to prevent credit and debit card fraud, there are additional steps you can take to minimize risk and protect your banking information from being compromised:

  • Protecting your PIN when making a purchase in store and online.
  • Inserting your card in the terminal first before swiping when making a purchase. If the store terminal isn’t compatible with chip technology, it will prompt you to swipe.
  • Never lending your card or disclosing your PIN to anyone.
  • Memorizing your PIN; don’t write it down.
  • Making sure your PIN cannot be easily detected if your card is lost or stolen.
  • Regularly reviewing your transaction history online or on your bank statements and reporting anything unusual to your financial institution immediately.
  • Changing your PIN periodically.
  • Being judicious about which websites you purchase from and avoiding storing credit card information online outside of your financial institution.

For merchants, Interac2 offers the following tips to protect against debit card fraud:

  • The customer is responsible for inserting their debit card into the terminal and entering their PIN.
  • The customer is responsible for making an Interac Flash transaction – the merchant can verbally assist by directing them to hold their card or mobile phone above the PIN pad.
  • Treat your PIN pads like cash; keep them out of sight when not in use.
  • Check your PIN pads and Automated Banking Machines regularly for anything unusual.
  • Lock-up PIN pads at closing.
  • Include log-in sheets for accountability of PIN pad in cash open and close procedures.
  • Consider adding surveillance cameras.
  • Know your employees – exercise due diligence when hiring and check references.
  • Remind your customers to protect their PIN when entering it at every opportunity and take their card when the transaction is complete. Talk to your payment service provider about other steps you can take to prevent fraud from happening at your location.

In closing, it takes a collaborative approach from both consumers and merchants to mitigate the risk of fraud. This includes making sure businesses are investing in the right data security tools, and consumers are encouraged to exercise vigilance and maintain a watchful eye on their personal finances to spot any suspicious purchases.

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