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Debit Card Fraud

Recognize it

payment terminalWhat is debit card fraud?

Debit card fraud happens when a thief "skims" or swipes the information from the magnetic strip on the back of your card to create a duplicate of your card. To steal money from your account, a thief also has to capture your PIN.

Report it

  • Step 1
    If you are a victim of debit card fraud, you should contact your bank immediately and they will take the appropriate steps to protect you. For example, they may block your card to prevent losses, ask you to change your PIN or cancel your card then issue you a new one. Depending on the circumstances, the bank may also ask you to sign an affidavit if there are fraudulent transactions in your account. If there is money missing from your account, they will work to get it back as quickly as possible, usually within two or three days or sometimes before you even know it's gone.
  • Step 2 - Contact your credit bureau and have fraud alerts placed on your credit reports:
  • Step 3 - Contact your local police
  • Step 4 - Always report debit card fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by visiting their website or calling 1-888-495-8501.

Stop it

Your debit card is the key to your account(s) - it's for your personal use only. Follow these tips to protect your debit cards against fraud and misuse.

  • Keep your card in a safe place and never lend it to anyone. Conducting an Automatic Banking Machine (ABM) or debit transaction requires both your card and your Personal Identification Number (PIN).
  • Protect your PIN – it’s your electronic signature. Don't write it down – memorize it. Change it periodically.
  • When selecting a PIN, always avoid the obvious: your name, telephone number, date of birth, and address. Make sure your PIN cannot be easily guessed if your debit card is lost or stolen.
  • Never disclose your PIN to anyone. No one from a legitimate financial institution, police service, or business should ask for your PIN.
  • Always conduct your ABM transactions when and where you feel most secure. If you are uncomfortable about using the machine for any reason, do it later or go to another location. If anything seems unusual about the ABM or point of sale terminal, don't use it – report the situation to police, the merchant or your financial institution.
  • To ensure privacy, use your hand or body as a shield to prevent others from seeing you enter your PIN.
  • After completing a transaction, remember to take your card and your transaction record.
  • After making a withdrawal from an ABM, count the cash received and put it away immediately.
  • If your card is lost, stolen, or is retained by an ABM, notify your financial institution immediately. Most institutions offer 1-800 telephone numbers and/or 24-hour service for lost or stolen cards.
  • Regularly review transaction history online or your monthly bank statements and report anything unusual to your financial institution immediately.
  • Robbery rarely occurs at ABMs, but if it does happen, remember that your safety comes first: Cooperate with the robber and then report the incident to the police and your bank.
  • Beware of all e-mail messages claiming to be from your financial institution. Canadian financial institutions do not send e-mails to their customers asking them to provide account information. In many reported cases of fraud, individuals will receive e-mail from what appears to be their bank asking them to click on a link included in the message. If you click on the link, you are brought to a fraudulent web site that looks just like your bank’s website. This practice is known as phising. When you enter personal information such as your credit card number and expiry date on a phishing site, it’s sent directly to the perpetrators of the fraud. For more information on phishing, visit our web page.


Debit card fraud losses 2005-2010
Year Dollars Lost to Debit Card Fraud Cardholders Reimbursed
2005 $70.4 Million 72 000
2006 $94.6 Million 119 000
2007 $106.8 Million 159 300
2008 $104.5 Million 148 000
2009 $142.3 Million 238 000
2010 $119 Million 205 000