One of the most important responsibilities that a bank or financial institution has is to protect the integrity of the institution by protecting the financial assets that it holds. In order to do so, the bank or financial institution must be certain to address the issue of bank fraud. Bank fraud can be defined as an unethical and/or criminal act by an individual or organization to illegally attempt to possess or receive money from a bank or financial institution.
Types of Fraud do you need to be aware of?Debit Card Fraud
Debit card fraud occurs when a criminal gains access to your debit card number (and in some cases PIN) to make unauthorized purchases and/or withdraw cash from your account. There are many different methods of obtaining your information, from unscrupulous employees to hackers gaining access your data from a retailer’s insecure computer or network.
When your debit card is used fraudulently, the money goes missing from your account instantly. Payments you’ve scheduled or checks you’ve mailed may bounce, and you may not be able to afford necessities. It can take awhile for the fraud to be cleared up and the money restored to your account.
How to Detect Debit Card Fraud
- Sign up for online banking, if you haven’t already. Check your balance and recent transactions daily. The sooner you detect fraud, the easier it will be to limit its impact on your finances and your life. If you see unfamiliar transactions, call the bank right away. If you’re the forgetful type, start hanging on to the receipts from your debit card transactions so you can compare these against your online transactions.
- If you do not have online banking, monitor your recent transactions via cellphone banking.
- Review your monthly bank statement as soon as you receive them, and check your account balance whenever you visit an ATM or bank teller. However, it can take much longer to detect fraud using these methods.
Protect Yourself from Debit Card Fraud
- Get Banking Alerts
In addition to checking your balance and recent transactions online daily, you can sign up for banking alerts. Your bank will then contact you by email or text message when certain activity occurs on your account, such as a withdrawals, Purchases and payments you have made.
- Go Paperless
View your bank statements online to will eliminate the possibility of having bank account information stolen from you. Shredding existing bank statements and debit card receipts using a diamond-cut shredder when you are done with them will greatly reduce the possibility of having bank account information stolen from your trash.
- Don’t Make Purchases With Your Debit Card
If you have the option to, use a credit card instead, as it offers greater protection against fraud.
- Destroy Old Debit Cards
Some shredders will take care of this for you, otherwise your old card floating around puts your information at risk.
- Don’t Keep All Your Money in One Place
If your checking account is compromised, you want to be able to access cash from another source to pay for necessities and meet your financial obligations.
- Beware of Phishing Scams
When checking your email or doing business online, make sure you know who you’re interacting with. An identity thief may set up a phishing web site that looks like it belongs to your bank or another business you have an account with. In reality, the scammer is looking to get access to your personal information and may attempt to access your bank account.
- Protect Your Computer and Mobile Devices
Use firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer and mobile devices, while keeping it updated regularly.
- Use a Secured Network
Do not do financial transactions online, when using your mobile devices or computer in a public place and/or over an unsecured network.
What to Do If It Happens to You
If you learn that your debit card information has been compromised, contact your bank immediately to limit the damage the thief can do, and limit your financial responsibility for the fraud. Make contact immediately by phone, and follow up with a detailed letter stating the full name of the bank employee you spoke with, details of the fraudulent transactions, and any ideas you have about how your account may have been compromised. Ask your bank to waive any fees/charges that may be incurred because of the fraud, and to restore the fraudulently withdrawn funds to your account.
You should not have any trouble resolving the issue directly with your bank, but if you do, you can contact the Ombudsman.