Protect your personal information while vacationing


    Did you know card-skimming scams cost Canadians $1.5 million in 2016*? BBB says whether your summer vacation plans include a road trip or jet-setting to an exotic destination, using your debit or credit card when you travel can pose a greater risk for card-skimming.

    “Even the most careful travelers can fall victim to card-skimming,” says Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “It could be as simple as using your card to pay for gas or take out cash at an ATM that happens to be fitted with a cleverly designed skimming device. Protecting your PIN and regularly checking your credit and debit card statements will help you quickly spot unauthorized charges. The faster you act, the less damage you will have to repair.”

    Here’s the over-scan of how card skimming works:

    • Card skimming occurs when card-reading technology is placed over an existing card reader, most commonly at an ATM or a gas station pump.

    • The card-reading device will capture your card’s information when it is used. The risk of card skimming continues to grow as technology makes card reading devices smaller and less noticeable.

    • Cameras and/or keypad recorders may also be used in card skimming plots to record your personal identification number (PIN). With your debit card information and PIN number, thieves have the information they need to make unauthorized purchases and possibly drain your account.

    To help reduce the possibility of card skimming, Better Business Bureau offers this advice:

    • Inspect the card reader: If the card reader looks damaged or bulky, give it a wiggle. If the device can be removed, alert local authorities.

    • Choose ATMs wisely: Avoid using ATMs in poorly lit areas and standalone ATMs in well-traveled, public places. Thieves may target machines that are not monitored by surveillance cameras or regularly inspected by owners.

    • Protect your PIN: When entering your PIN, cover the keypad with your other hand to protect your personal information from any potential cameras in the vicinity. If the keypad appears loose, it could be a sign of a keypad recorder. Also, change your PIN occasionally.

    • Monitor your statements: Regularly review your financial statements for inaccuracies and fraudulent purchases. Consumer protections for debit and credit cards vary, but typically the sooner suspicious activity is reported, the easier it is to remedy. Waiting to report fraudulent activity on a debit card has the potential to be financially devastating.

    • Check your credit report at least once a year: Check your credit score with TransUnion or Equifax.  Look for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies that could affect your ability to receive loans or other financial aid.

    For more tips you can trust, visit If you suspect your card has been skimmed, contact the Calgary Police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

    *Interac® Debit card fraud losses at their lowest level ever



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