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Safeguard Your PIN

Canadians enjoy one of the most secure banking systems in the world, and THE EXCHANGE®  ATM Network and its members are constantly working with law enforcement and other organizations, to protect their cardholders from debit card fraud.

The number one way to avoid debit card fraud starts with you, the owner of the card.  You can help keep your money safe by always safeguarding your Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Here are some tips to help you safeguard your PIN

  1. Use your hand or body to shield your PIN when you are conducting transactions at the Automated Teller Machine (ATM), or when making Point of Sale (POS) transactions at retail stores.  Avoid potential “shoulder surfing”.

  2. Never let your banking card out of your sight when conducting a POS transaction. Only allow your card to be swiped once and always remember to take your banking card and transaction record with you once your transaction is completed.

  3. Regularly check your statements and balances to verify all transactions have been properly documented. If entries do not accurately reflect transaction activities, for example, if there are missing or additional transactions, you should contact your Financial Institution immediately.

  4. If your banking card is lost, stolen or retained by an ATM, notify your Financial Institution immediately upon becoming aware of the problem.

  5. Your banking card and PIN are the keys to your account(s). Never disclose your PIN to anyone. Keep your card in a safe place and never lend it to anyone.

  6. Memorize your PIN - it's your electronic signature. If you suspect that someone knows your PIN, change it immediately or contact your Financial Institution immediately to cancel the card.  It is strongly recommended you do not write down your PIN.

  7. When selecting your PIN, never use obvious information such as your telephone number, date of birth, address or social insurance number.

  8. Only conduct ATM transactions when & where you feel secure.  If you think someone is watching what you are doing, or you feel uncomfortable, do not use your card, or cancel the transaction, and find an alternate location.

  9. If you suspect that someone may have obtained your PIN number or account number, please contact your Financial Institution immediately, request your card be cancelled and have a new one issued.

  10. Avoid using your banking card at remote/small locations.

  11. In a proven case of fraud, victims are protected by the Canadian Code of Practice for Debit Card Services and will not suffer any financial losses. Information on the Code and how to protect yourself against debit card fraud is available on Industry Canada's Web site at: http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/inoca-bc.nsf/en/ca01832e.html

(Each case is reviewed on an individual basis by your Financial Institution.)

How THE EXCHANGE®  & your Financial Institution help prevent debit card fraud:

  1. Financial Institutions receive and monitor Industry Association reports and alert their members/customers if there is any potential cause for concern, and take steps to ensure that their cards are replaced to prevent any unauthorized access.

  2. Financial Institutions monitor and upgrade ATMs as required with the latest security methods to protect cardholders from debit-card skimming.

  3. Financial Institutions work closely with the police to assist in their investigations of suspected locations/operations.

  4. Continuing to communicate to members the importance of protecting their PIN.

Things to know:

  1. It is important to note that both the banking card and Personal Identification Number (PIN) are required to complete both ATM transactions and Point of Sale (POS) transactions at different retailers.

  2. When a cardholder enters their PIN at an ATM or on a POS device, it is scrambled using encryption technology before it is sent through the network to the cardholder’s Financial Institution.

  3. The PIN number is not contained on the banking card magnetic stripe.  Only the cardholder should know their PIN.

  4. At no time is the PIN ever printed or displayed in any manner.

  5. No one should ever request you to reveal your PIN, not even the police or your own Financial Institution.

  6. The only information stored on the magnetic stripe of your banking card is information such as card number, expiry date, and language code, which is required to complete the transaction.  Personal information such address, telephone number, bank account number is NOT contained on the card.

  7. Retailers are not able to collect addresses, credit information, account numbers, or any other personal and confidential information from cardholders using their banking cards at POS terminals.

Compared to the billions of transactions that take place at ATMs and POS terminals in Canada, debit card fraud incidents are rare.  However, it is still a concern.  By increasing cardholder awareness about PIN security, we can all help prevent it from occurring.

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