Knowledge Center — Fraud Awareness & Prevention

Don't Let Debit Card Fraud Spoil the Holidays

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but unfortunately, it’s also the season when debit card fraud can turn joyful “ho, ho, ho’s” into anxious “oh, no no’s”! As your trusted banking partner, we want to offer some insights into how you can protect yourself from falling victim to debit card fraud, especially during the holidays.

How Serious Is Debit Card Fraud?

During the first two quarters of 2023, The Federal Trade Commission Sentinel Network received more than 38,000 reports about debit cards being used as a payment method by fraudsters , resulting in losses of more than $106 million for consumers.

Consumers and retailers report a noticeable spike in debit card fraud during the holiday shopping season. Credit reporting agency TransUnion estimates that digital holiday shopping fraud in the U.S. increased 125% compared to the rest of the year. With the increased volume of transactions both online and in-store, hard-to-resist deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and distracted shoppers with too much to do in too little time, cybercriminals and other fraudsters find many opportunities to exploit unsuspecting victims.

How Debit Card Fraud Occurs

Debit card fraud can occur in various forms, requiring consumers to be vigilant. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Phishing scams. Holiday-themed emails promising too-good-to-be-true deals or urgent notifications about your account can be a ruse to trick you into providing sensitive card details.
  • Skimming devices. Found on ATMs, gas pumps and point-of-sale terminals, skimming devices are also threats. Before swiping your card, notice whether it looks tampered with or loose. Report it immediately if it does.
  • Unsecured Wi-Fi networks. As you make purchases, while sipping on a peppermint latte, at your favorite coffee shop or waiting for your holiday flight, hackers might be waiting in the wings to intercept your debit card information. Always use secure, password-protected networks for your transactions.
  • Purchasing from a fraudulent website. Not all “merchants” are who they claim to be. Be sure to do business with retailers you know and trust.
  • Lost or stolen cards. If you misplace your debit card or think it’s been stolen, report it immediately to protect against unauthorized transactions.

How to Protect Yourself

Your best defense strategy is awareness. Protect yourself by taking these proactive measures:

  • Regularly monitor your accounts. Keep a close eye on your account activity and report suspicious transactions immediately.
  • Enroll in Card Controls and transaction alerts. Thanks to technology, you can set up real-time transaction alerts and turn your card on/off on your mobile banking app. If there's any suspicious activity, you'll know about it instantly.
  • Look for “https” in a website’s address. It should be accompanied by a padlock symbol. This ensures your data is encrypted and less likely to be intercepted.
  • Consider using mobile payment options that use tokenization to enhance security. Your actual card details are never shared during the transaction, making it harder for fraudsters to compromise your information.
  • Protect your physical card. This advice goes not only for keeping your card in a safe location but also shielding your PIN when you enter it at ATMs or point-of-sale terminals.
  • Regularly update passwords and PINs. Avoid using birthdays, street addresses, sequential numbers and other passwords and PINs that can be easily guessed. Never use the same password for multiple accounts.

What to Do If You Are a Victim

Even when you take precautions, fraud can still occur. In such cases, prompt action is critical. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Immediately contact Country Club Bank to report the incident. The sooner you report the fraud, the sooner the bank can secure your account and the better your chance of minimizing damage.
  • Update security measures. Change your PIN and password to prevent further unauthorized access.
  • Dispute unauthorized transactions. Country Club Bank can help you investigate and resolve these situations.
  • Monitor your credit report. Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit reports. Doing so adds an extra layer of security, making it more challenging for fraudsters to open new accounts in your name.

Don’t let debit card fraud mar your holiday celebrations. Heightened awareness can help you thwart many potential fraud threats. Stay vigilant, use secure payment methods, set card controls and transaction alerts, and act quickly if you suspect any foul play. As your bank, we are committed to working with you to have a joyful—and secure—holiday season.