Protecting Yourself Against Debit Card Fraud


When you make a purchase with a debit or credit card, are you worried about your sensitive information being compromised? It’s hard not to be these days, given the frequency of reports about data breaches and identity theft. On top of it, there are constant warnings around us about scammers “phishing” for credit card numbers using bogus emails, websites, phone calls, and text messages.

Given the focus on credit cards, you might be surprised to learn that consumer experts are equally concerned with fraud involving your “other plastic,” aka your debit/ATM card.

A quick look at recent debit card fraud statistics:

  • In 2021 there were over 68K reports of debit card fraud totaling over $140 million in total loss.
  • Nearly 65% of people with credit or debit cards (so about 141 million people) have experienced credit card fraud at least once. (source)
  • All types of debit card and credit card fraud are on the rise.

Consumer experts say that fraud is still on the upswing and scammers are finding ways to outwit the chip. So as an active consumer, what should you do to ensure your information is secure? At BancFirst, we recommend considering three takeaways:

  1. Take precautions when using your card.
  2. Monitor your checking account for unauthorized transactions, using online banking tools.
  3. Know what to do should you have a problem.

Beware of Skimmers at Unknown ATMs

Did you know that someone can steal your debit card information and use it, without having to have the physical card? Those same phishers also pursue debit card information online. Dishonest employees can review your card and PIN numbers when you make a retail purchase. In addition, checkout terminals at retail stores can be hacked. Then there’s something called the “skimmer.” Put simply, small devices with tiny cameras can be secretly attached to ATMs or retail terminals and illegally record every debit card transaction, including capturing your PIN. So, watch for anything unusual near the card entry slot when you use retail terminals or ATMs. Of course, sophisticated scammers often place skimmers inside terminals, where they can’t be seen - if your card doesn’t enter the slot smoothly, that can be a warning sign. If you do notice this, call the financial institution that owns that ATM or the merchant immediately to report a potential skimmer.

See the Light

It’s best to use only ATMs that are inside of or adjacent to banks. They tend to have better security than machines at convenience stores, restaurants, and other places. Otherwise, choose ATMs in well-lighted areas. “Bad guys” often avoid locations where they might get caught installing a skimmer. The “well-lighted” rule applies to other places, such as gas stations. If you’re paying with a debit card, use a pump that’s close to the building in direct sight of store employees. Better yet, walk the card inside and pay at the counter.

Monitor Your Account

One silver lining with debit card fraud -- it’s fairly easy to spot. Consumer advocates suggest you take these steps:

  • Use online banking. Check your balance and recent transactions daily, looking for purchases or withdrawals you didn’t make.
  • Sign up for alerts. At BancFirst, we’re always on the lookout for unusual activity in your account. We’ll contact you by email or text if we see anything that looks suspicious. And with BancFirst Card Controls, you have the ability to set limits or other alerts on your card so you will be notified of activity you may want to verify.
  • Switch to e-Statements. If you miss something while monitoring online banking, you might see it while viewing your monthly electronic statement. Signing up for e-Statements also eliminates the possibility of having account information stolen from your postal mailbox.
  • Keep several accounts. Checking accounts are great places to keep money for everyday expenses. But consider moving extra cash into savings accounts or Certificates of Deposits. Doing so could limit the financial damage should you become a debit card fraud victim. Plus, you’ll earn interest on your deposits.

Report Problems Quickly

BancFirst, in partnership with Mastercard, utilizes a fraud response program to monitor for suspicious transactions. You may receive a call or text regarding transactions that are suspect and given an opportunity to respond taking immediate action to stop the fraud. That allows you to address the situation before paying for items and services you didn’t really buy or authorize.

If you notice problems with your account, contact your bank immediately to report unauthorized transactions, and order a new debit card. Scammers often make withdrawals on an account over and over until the debit/ATM card is canceled.

There are also federal debit card fraud laws to protect you against unauthorized transactions. To ensure you’re fully protected, always report unauthorized transactions in a timely manner.

At BancFirst, we share your concerns about debit card fraud. We offer help to safeguard your debit card from fraud by blocking authorizations, setting alerts, establishing spending limits, and controlling transaction types.

Please contact us with any questions or to report problems with your account. You can also use our online form to report a lost or stolen card or call our customer service at 844-545-3059. For additional information about fraud prevention, visit the Things to Know page of our website.


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