Tips from PULSE Help Consumers Reduce Risk of Fraud and Identity Theft
June is ATM & Debit Card Safety Awareness Month
HOUSTON, TX – Jun 6, 2011 — In recognition of ATM & Debit Card Safety Awareness Month, PULSE is sharing recommendations with consumers on how to better guard their debit cards and personal financial information. The continued growth of debit use signifies that most consumers prefer debit over other payment options, so it is more important than ever to take precautions to reduce risk.
"According to industry research, fewer consumers fell victim to fraud and identity theft in 2010 than in previous years," said Eric Lillard, PULSE director, Fraud Operations. "However, the average out-of-pocket costs for those who did were higher than ever. It's certainly no time to become complacent. Consumers should still watch carefully for signs of fraud."
PULSE remains committed to educating all consumers, from recent college graduates to retirees, about methods necessary to combat security compromises and avoid the fraudulent use of financial information. To reduce the risk of identity theft and fraud while realizing the benefits of debit, consumers should keep the following tips in mind:
Review account statements regularly
Verify all transactions by matching purchases to your account statements. Frequently reviewing accounts online helps identify unauthorized activity promptly. Many financial institutions offer free email alerts for routine account activity and unusual transactions.
Keep your PIN to yourself
No one ever needs to know your PIN, not even your financial institution. Memorize your PIN and never write it on your card or store it with your card. Never let a cashier, teller or other stranger enter your PIN for you.
Only use well-lit, unobstructed ATMs
If an ATM is obstructed from view or is poorly lit, leave the area and conduct your transaction at another location.
Protect your purse or wallet
One of the leading causes of identify theft is lost or stolen items, such as wallets, luggage and purses containing personal information. Minimize the number of items you carry regularly that contain personal information, such as your Social Security card. When you must carry such items, take extra care to keep it secure.
Treat unsolicited offers with suspicion
If you receive a request or offer via postal mail, email, pop-up message or phone call that requires you to provide or confirm personal information, do not respond. Instead, call the business using a different phone number to confirm the legitimacy of the request or offer.
Shop carefully online
If you initiate an online transaction and must provide personal data, re-type the URL into your browser instead of following a link. Look for indicators that the site connection is secure. Two simple ways to confirm it is secure is to ensure "https" appears in the web address or the closed padlock icon appears in your browser.
Use updated anti-virus software, anti-spyware and a firewall
Some phishing and pharming attacks contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Criminals are upgrading their attacks frequently, so using appropriate software to identify and combat potential threats can be a beneficial investment.
Review your credit report every year
You are entitled to one free credit report each year. You also may obtain a free report at anytime if you are a victim of identity theft. To request your free report, log on to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228.
If you become a victim, close all affected accounts immediately to minimize the damage. Change passwords on all other accounts.
Limit the disclosure of your personal information. Contact your financial institutions, mortgage brokers and the three major credit reporting agencies to opt out of programs, such as pre-approved credit applications, that share your information. You also can block inquiries that result in pre-approved lines of credit.
Additional tips for maintaining card safety include:
- Watch for skimming devices
- Protect your debit card's magnetic stripe
- Report lost or stolen cards at once
- Beware of phony ATMs
- Observe your surroundings
- Minimize time spent at the ATM
- Block the view of the ATM keypad
For more information about ATM and debit card safety, go to www.pulsenetwork.com/debitsafety. Also, visit www.DebitFacts.org, a PULSE-sponsored consumer awareness website, for recommendations to help protect consumers' personal finances when using debit cards, including tips for fraud and identity theft protection. Follow DebitFacts.org on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debitfacts.
PULSE, a Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) company, is a leading debit/ATM network, serving more than 4,400 banks, credit unions and savings institutions across the United States. The network links cardholders with ATMs and POS terminals at retail locations nationwide. Through its global ATM network, PULSE provides worldwide cash access for Diners Club and Discover cardholders through hundreds of thousands of ATM locations. The company also is a source of electronic payments research and is committed to providing its participants with education on emerging products, services and trends in the payments industry. For more information, www.pulsenetwork.com.