Keep your cards close to your chest this Christmas

December 18, 2017

Christmas is a busy time of year. Between rushing around meeting friends and picking up last-minute stocking fillers, you’ll probably be using your debit and credit cards a lot more over the next few weeks. Read our tips on keeping your cards close to your chest and using them safely this festive season.

Think before you tap

Contactless payments, which can be made up to €30, can be handy if you’re under time pressure, but be careful about how you use them. Tapping for smaller amounts can be convenient, but could also mean paying less attention to how you use your card. If you’re in a bar or shop, always make sure you tap the card yourself, and get staff to show you the terminal as they tap your card so you can see the amount is correct. Always ask for a receipt for contactless payments.

What is card skimming?

Card skimmers are small devices used to steal credit or debit card information at locations such as ATMs. When a card is placed through the skimmer, it captures details from the card’s magnetic strip. Scammers use the stolen data to make purchases either online or with a counterfeit card. You may only notice your card has been skimmed when you see unusual charges in your account or money withdrawn, even though you had your card the whole time.

Reduce the risk

You can reduce the risk of your card being skimmed. If you’re at an ATM and notice something unusual about the cash machine, like signs of tampering, don’t enter your card or PIN. Report the machine to the bank immediately and contact the local Garda station. Never let your cards out of your sight and never give anyone your PIN number. You should also always cover the keypad when entering your PIN.

Use ATMs safely

When taking money out stand close to the ATM or card terminal and always shield the keypad with your free hand and body, so no one can see you enter your PIN. Use ATMs that are well lit and in clear view. Be aware of anyone trying to distract you at the cash machine or standing very close behind you.

Don’t forget to take your card and money from the ATM when you’re leaving. This happens more often than you might think, especially if you’re under time pressure. Try not to take out large amounts of cash which could be easily stolen or lost when shopping or socialising.

Check your accounts

Christmas is a busy time of year for our bank accounts, so make sure to keep an eye on them. While there’s no way to avoid problems completely, you can reduce any harm done by paying attention to transactions on your credit or debit account. Checking your online accounts often, especially when you’re using your card more frequently, will mean you’ll be able to spot unusual or unfamiliar transactions. Contact your bank or card provider without delay if you notice anything unusual.

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