Thursday, May 22, 2008

Debit Card Scam in Nanaimo

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Debit Card Statements

It is reported in the local press that staff at Galaxy Theatre have discovered a fraudulent Interac kepad at their business.

Police believe the unit was in use on Monday and Tuesday and advise people to check their financial records. Any suspicious activity should be reported to the local RCMP at 754-2345 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

These pin pads look just like a legitimate one and allow you to complete your transaction as normal, however they have been doctored to capture your account number and pin number. The thieves are then able to manufacture a card using your account number and pin number and can then access your account to either remove cash or charge purchases.

While this unit was found at Galaxy Theatre, it is likely the thieves have placed other pin pads around town. These false units can be exchanged for the legitimate ones in a matter of seconds and only requires a distracted clerk to allow the crook time to make the swap.

Last December 268 bank accounts in Victoria were drained by thieves using false pin pads.
To protect yourself from this type of fraud police offer the following advice:

For customers:

  • Check if the PIN pad has been tampered with before handing over your debit card. Look for raised screws on the back, the absence of a serial number, or the machine looks like it doesn't fit.
  • Check your bank statement often, daily if possible, for any illegal activity.
  • Call the bank at once if you are suspicious about anything in your account.

For merchants:

  • Pay attention around the cash register because "fake" customers will try to distract you while they switch debit machines.
  • Check the PIN pad regularly throughout the day and look for signs of tampering.
  • Put labels or stickers on PIN pads so they're easily identifiable by staff and to deter thieves from making a quick switch.

Canadian banks have the obligation to reimburse victims of debit card scams, said Maura Drew-Lytle, a senior media relations manager with the Canadian Bankers Association.

"If you're the victim of fraud, you can get your money back. And sometimes the banks with their monitoring systems, they can get your money back before you even know it's gone," she said.

A total of $95 million was stolen in debit card scams last year, she said.


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