Keep Your Eye On Your Dough
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Keep Your Eye On Your Dough

It’s the holiday season, which means that stress is high and we’re not always thinking when we spend our money. But this time of year is also a busy season for fraudsters, who love to take advantage of people’s holiday forgetfulness.
Paying by debit is one of the easiest ways of paying for your goods, but it’s the easiest to compromise. We know several people who have had thousands of dollars drained from their accounts in the past two weeks, and even though banks are generally good about giving it back, it still takes a few weeks and adds a huge amount of stress during an already stressful season.
Banks are offering the following tips to keep your cash safe during the holidays:

  • Don’t Interact With Interac: Use cash when you can, and use credit as a backup. Credit cards have more stringent protection because technically, it’s the bank’s money, so they make sure that they keep it safe. If your debit card is compromised, on the other hand, you can lose your rent money, your food money, and your holiday shopping money in one fell swoop, and it can take several weeks and a whole lot of paperwork to get it back.
  • Cash for Gas: Gas stations seem to be the most common means for fraudsters to get access to your banking information. Banks recommend avoiding pay-at-the-pump technology because of how easily it can be tampered with. Even if you are paying inside, it’s best to use cash instead.
  • Only the Lonely: Avoid independant ATMs when you can; because no one is monitoring them outright, they can easily be tampered with. It’s always better to go to one of your own branch bank machines.
  • Reading Is For Winners: Make sure you read your bank statement every month and keep an eye out for any strange transactions. Some fraudsters start with small transactions to test the account first, and then go in for a clean sweep.
  • Lower Your Standards: Rather, lower your maximum withdrawal limit for your account. Most of the time banks set the limit so you can withdraw thousands of dollars from your account each day, but how often do you use that privilege? Keeping it low will not only make sure you’re not going overboard with your spending, but it will make sure your account doesn’t get drained.
  • Don’t PIN Yourself Down: Change your PIN frequently, and make sure it isn’t anything obvious. And pay attention to who may be peeking over your shoulder.

When in doubt, just be careful. We live in a very technological age, and sometimes that technology can come back and bite us in the ass.
Photo by Arieh Singer from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.