Keep your (credit and debit) cards safe at Christmas

CCPC

Reporter:

CCPC

Be vigilant to prevent bank card skimming

Cards are vulnerable to skimming in a variety of ways. Be vigilant when you use yours

Christmas is always an exciting, but hectic, time of year. Between stocking the fridge, picking up presents and meeting family and friends for festive catch-ups, you’ll probably be using your card a lot more over the next few weeks. Whether you’re getting money from the ATM, paying by credit or debit card or tapping using contactless, make sure you use your cards safely this Christmas.

Beware of card skimming

Card skimming is where scammers use a small device to steal credit or debit card information at locations such as ATMs. The device captures the details stored in the card's magnetic strip. Scammers then use the stolen data to make purchases either online or with a counterfeit card. You may only notice your card has been skimmed when you see fraudulent charges or money withdrawn from your account, even though you had your card the whole time.

There are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of your card being skimmed.

If you’re at an ATM and you notice something unusual about the cash machine, like signs of tampering, don’t enter your card or PIN. Report the machine to the bank immediately and contact the local Garda station. Never let your cards out of your sight and never give anyone your PIN number. You should also always cover the keypad when entering your PIN. Being scammed out of money isn’t nice at any time of the year, but it’s especially important to be vigilant at Christmas.

Be careful at ATMs

When taking money out stand close to the ATM or card terminal and always shield the keypad with your free hand and your body to so no one can see you enter your PIN. Always try and use ATMs that are well lit and in clear view. Also be aware of how close people are in the queue behind you and of anyone trying to distract you at the cash machine.

Don’t forget to take your card and money from the ATM when you’re leaving. This happens more often than you might think, especially when people are hurrying and there are crowds around. Also try not to take out large amounts of cash which could be stolen or easily lost when you’re out shopping or socialising.

Tap wisely

Contactless payments can be handy if you’re under time pressure, but you should be careful about how you use them. Instead of inserting your card into the card terminal and entering your pin number, if your card has the contactless symbol, you can just tap your card against the reader to pay. The maximum value for contactless payments is €30. Tapping for smaller amounts can be very convenient, but could also mean paying less attention to how you use your card. If you’re in a bar or shop, always make sure you tap the card yourself, or that staff show you the terminal and the amount as they tap your card. Don’t let staff take your card away and tap it without you being able to see the transaction. Make sure also that you always ask for a receipt for contactless payments.

Remember that contactless payments are not always taken from your account immediately after the transaction takes place and may not appear on your bank statement for a number of days.

Keep an eye on your accounts

Christmas is a busy time of year for our bank accounts so make sure to keep an eye on them. While there’s no sure fire way to avoid problems completely, you can reduce the damage if it does happen by paying attention to transactions on your credit or debit account. Checking your online account often, especially during times when you’re using your card more frequently will mean you will be able to spot unusual or unfamiliar transactions. How often you check is up to you, but don’t let too much time go by without having a look at your recent transactions. Contact your bank or card provider without delay if you notice anything unusual.

For more information on payments, skimming and scams go to www.ccpc.ie.