How to protect yourself from payment card fraud

85073_optA recent Interac survey shows that 41 per cent of Canadians worry about payment fraud, with skimming, retail data breaches and electronic pickpocketing topping the list of concerns. Almost half of those surveyed – 49 per cent – said they’re concerned about skimming-related fraud. Skimming occurs when a criminal illegally copies the information from the magnetic stripe of a credit or bank card. Certain debit cards, however, are extremely secure.

“Fraud losses as a result of skimming are at a record low – with a decrease of 88 per cent over the last five years,” says Mark Sullivan, the head of fraud risk programs for Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation. “This is thanks in part to measures like chip technology and new contactless payment options like Interac Flash, which relies on the same security as debit, and offers additional protection though small transaction limits.”

Two out of five Canadians (40 per cent) report that they are concerned about electronic pickpocketing, where a criminal uses a reader to steal information stored on a contactless payment card. Others are more concerned about retail data breaches, with 45 per cent reporting they worry about criminals accessing their card numbers or other information and using it for a fraudulent transaction. But not all payment card technologies are equally at risk for these types of fraud.

“Some forms of contactless payment – like Interac Flash – have rules and built-in technologies to protect consumers against counterfeiting, transaction replay, and card-not-present transactions,” says Sullivan.

Here are some tips for keeping your money safe:

• Shield your PIN with your hand or body during every transaction, whether you’re at the merchant or at a bank machine.

• Check your financial statements regularly and contact your financial institution immediately if you spot any unusual activity. Zero customer liability ensures you won’t pay for unauthorized purchases.

• Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone over e-mail, and be suspicious of opening email attachments from unknown sources.

• Exercise caution if you receive an Interac e-Transfer that you are not expecting – check with the person sending the transfer by separate email or by phone before you proceed.

More information is available at

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