How to Avoid Being a Debit Card Fraud Victim

Criminals have started taking advantage of customers embracing online shopping because they have to work home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The crime statistics released for 2020 indicate a 33% increase in debit card fraud compared to the previous year. Therefore, customers must become more vigilant.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) noted that the gross losses due to debit card fraud amounted to R520.5 million. Debit card fraud refers to when a criminal gains access to someone’s debit card number and their PIN in some instances. The criminal then uses this information to withdraw cash or make unauthorized purchases from that account.

One of the common methods that criminals use to gain access to debit card information is through social engineering, which involves using deception to manipulate the individuals they want to target to give out personal or confidential information. The personal information they might gain includes identity documents, passports, addresses, driver’s licenses, and contact details.

Criminals may also use phishing which uses fraudulent emails that may look legitimate to obtain personal information from their victims, such as their card numbers and passwords. Vishing may also be used, using fraudulent messages or phone calls to get personal information or one-time passwords.

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Debit Card Fraud

Although you might not have control over criminals, there are some methods that you can follow that will ensure that you avoid becoming a victim of debit card fraud, and these include:

  1. Personal information

    You should be careful about the way you dispose of documents that contain personal information. To ensure that no one will be able to see your documents that contain personal information, it is advised that you either burn or shred those documents. Refrain from tearing up or putting documents in the recycling or garbage bag. Though it might be convenient for you, it is advised that you do not carry personal information in your purse or wallet.

    You should never share confidential information with anyone under any circumstances, and this information includes passwords, usernames, and PINs. You should also avoid having joint social media accounts or sharing your social media account information with anyone. It is also advised that you be cautious about what you share on social media and refrain from posting information that might leave you vulnerable to crime.
  1. Banking

    One of the easiest ways that will allow you to spot problems early is through having online banking. It will enable you to check your balance whenever you want to and check your recent transactions. Suppose any issues point to fraud. In that case, you would be able to detect these issues sooner, making it easier to minimize the impact that the fraud will have on your finances and your life, as you will be able to query any transactions that you did not make immediately. Ensure that you get banking alerts so that your bank contacts you by email or text messages when activity occurs on your accounts, such as withdrawals occurring.

    It is advised that you create complex passwords that cannot be easily deciphered and ensure that you change your passwords often. When entering your PIN or passwords, check that they cannot be seen when you enter them.

    When you do your banking, you should also avoid using internet cafes and other unsecured terminals, such as conference centres and hotels. When shopping online, you should check that the website you are using to place your order with your card is secure. You should also ensure that when using Wi-Fi that the network you are using is secure. Use anti-virus, firewall and anti-spyware software when using your mobile device or computer to conduct financial transactions, and ensure that you regularly update them.
  1. Avoid phishing and vishing

    Under no circumstances will banks ever ask you to confirm confidential information over the phone. You should also refrain from sending out emails that include your card number and its expiry date. If you receive unsolicited emails from someone you are unfamiliar with, do not click on any links or icons, and the best option would be to delete those emails immediately.

    If you receive an OTP to your mobile device but did not make a transaction, a fraudster likely used your personal information. If they call you asking to provide that OTP, you should refrain from doing so. Instead, you should contact your bank immediately, alerting them that your personal information may have been compromised.

    If you notice that you lose connectivity under circumstances where you are usually connected, you should check whether you are a victim of a SIM swap.


To make sure that you never become a victim of debit card fraud, you should do everything possible to make their work difficult. Part of that requires you to keep track of your bank account’s balance and safeguard your account information.

Also see the Common ATM Scams & How to Protect Yourself Against Them.

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