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Last Updated Monday February 13 2017 03:13 PM IST

Tips to keep your debit card transactions safe

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Tips to keep your debit card transactions safe (Representative image: iStock)

Those who use debit cards to withdraw money from ATMs or do online shopping are an easy target for thieves and online fraudsters. 

They are vulnerable to fraud and theft mainly due to the banks’ non-compliance of guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to mitigate risks associated with electronic payment transactions. 

Though the banks may come up with lame excuses such ‘technical failure’ or ‘poor service’, it will not help the customer recover his hard-earned money. 

That said, primarily, it is the responsibility of the customer to protect his money by learning how to use a debit card safely.

Here are a few things that will make you card transactions safer:

Swipe watchfully

With the use of the outdated electromagnetic technology, fraudsters can easily scan and record your debit card information as you swipe. Cyber thieves do this by inserting skimming devices into ATM card slots, swipe machines at shops, and other point-of-sale point (POS) devices. 

After gathering account information, these cards will be cloned, or simply, cards that are indistinguishable from the original will be created. Later, the crooks will withdraw money from your account or make purchases using these duplicate cards after acquiring the personal identification number (PIN).   

Chips to save the day

The RBI has instructed banks to complete migration of existing magnetic stripe only cards to EMV chip and PIN enabled debit and credit cards, a move aimed at protecting customers from frauds, before January 31, 2016. 

The regulator has also given time till September 30, 2016, for cards issued under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and other government schemes. 

EMV Chip Card and PIN protects against both skimming and lost and stolen card fraud. Also, cloning of debit cards with copied data will be impossible for crooks as it brings in a second layer of authentication. 

EMV stands for 'Euro pay MasterCard Visa', the three leading global payments solutions companies that developed the initial specifications for chip-compatible cards and POS terminals. The data on EVM is encrypted, and it needs readers equipped with specially-designed software to decrypt it. Apart from being a highly secure method, chip cards allow the customers to make bulk transactions as compared to the magnetic strip cards. 

Do not share your PIN

Keep your PIN a secret. No bank or respectable organisation asks for bank account details or details of the debit or credit cards over phone. If fraudsters manage to get details of your card including the PIN number, it is your fault and nobody else can be blamed. 

If a ‘bank official’ calls and states that the bank requires details of the card including the CVV (card verification value) number as printed on the back of the card and also the PIN, it does not require rocket science theory to understand that the call is made by a conman looking to defraud you. 

One needs to exercise extra caution not to disclose your PIN and fall prey to fictitious offers such as free mobile phones or free trips. 

If you use your debit card to withdraw money from ATM or make a purchase, never let anyone else enter your PIN for you. 

Most of the banks have started issuing chip, PIN based debit/credit cards. Customers who still use magnetic stripe cards are requested to approach the nearest branch and get them blocked and obtain the new chip card for enhanced security.

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