Debit card fraud

When your debit card, debit card information or your personal identification number (PIN) is stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases or transactions, you become a victim of debit card fraud.

How does it happen?

For debit card fraud to occur, a thief needs both your PIN and the debit card itself or the information stored on it. If your card is stolen or duplicated, the thief has to find some way to get your PIN and use it for unauthorized purchases or transactions.

Many financial institutions are now issuing client cards with chip technology. New cards with chip technology are virtually impossible to duplicate and are considered more secure than the older cards that store your information on a magnetic stripe.

How to prevent it

  • Take precautions to protect your PIN whenever using your debit card. Cover the keypad when entering the PIN at a retailer or a bank machine.
  • Never lend your debit card and PIN to anyone.
  • When setting your PIN, do not use an easily guessed PIN. You may be responsible for any loss if you use your name, address, telephone number, date of birth or social insurance number for your PIN.
  • When using your card, keep it in sight at all times.
  • Check your bank account records regularly  for any errors or irregularities and report them immediately.

What to do if you are a victim

If you think you are a victim of fraud, take the following steps:

  • Start a written log: write down when you noticed the fraud and the actions you took, including names of people you spoke to and dates of communications.
  • File a report with your local police.
  • Contact your financial institutions and any other accounts (e.g., phone company or cable provider) that were tampered with, or are at risk of being tampered with.
  • Advise Canada's two credit rating agencies, TransUnion and Equifax.
  • Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre​, a national anti-fraud call centre, at 1-888-495-8501 or info@antifraudcentre.ca.
  • Know your rights and responsibilities.

The Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Debit Card Services outlines financial institutions practices and consumers' and financial institutions’ responsibilities related to debit cards.  

To learn more about how debit card fraud happens, how to protect yourself and what to do if you become a victim, read the tip sheet "Protecting yourself from debit card fraud." 

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