Credit Card skimmed

My Credit Card has been skimmed and I’m trying to figure out if I feel personally violated. I’m also thinking about what I could have done to prevent the skimming and what I need to do to protect my card from here on in.

Despite me being very careful with my card, a copy has been made and someone has been on a spending spree to the tune of $2-3,000. However my bank noticed the questionable transactions very quickly as they were all on the opposite side of the country, in Ontario. More importantly I’m not financially liable for fraud.

So, do I feel violated? Around 15 years ago I had my wallet stolen from a zipped coat pocket that was on the back of a chair whilst I was at a motorway service area. That was the first and only time I’ve suffered that kind of robbery and it didn’t feel good. When you add in the hassle of cancelling cards, changing bank accounts etc the whole theft thing becomes very time consuming as well as leaving a feeling of having one’s personal space invaded. Something personal had been taken without my knowledge.

This time it’s different. I still had possession of the card, nothing had been taken from me, except in some ways, part of my identity. Someone was using my name to make fraudulent purchases. In some ways that’s the thing that bites, the thought of my name being used for criminal purposes. That’s where I feel violated.

Could it be prevented?

The thing that’s really irritating is that the UK introduced chip and pin to credit cards nearly three years ago and the same system is only just starting to roll out in Canada. Chip and pin would probably have prevented the fraudulent transactions on my duplicated card as the user would not have my PIN. Okay, unrelated, but banks out here routinely apply account charges, do not offer interest on current/chequing accounts and cheques still seem to be widely used. I guess that the cost of fraud has to be recouped from somewhere and that generally means the customer. In other words, I have issues with the Canadian banking system as it seems somewhat lagging the UK standards for security. However, it’s all I’ve got to work with and so it’s one of those culture shock things that immigrants must go through.

Mind you, it even seems that chip and pin security can be compromised as this article in the Telegraph discusses. Having said that, the scam was a highly organised crime.

What can you do about card fraud?

What can be done to minimise the risk of having your card skimmed? Simply keep it in sight during personal transactions. I can only think of 2 instances over the last 6 months where I let my card be taken away to process and that may have been my downfall. Other things such as actually checking statements can help identify issues, but to me the best form of security is keeping the card in sight. Okay, online transactions are another matter and all I can add there is make sure that you’re on a secure site before punching in those valuable card details and of course, keep your PC malware free, especially windoze machines.

If you want more information on how to minimise the risk of card fraud, visit the Canadian Bankers Association.

Learn from my experience, not your own

What have I learnt from the experience? Well, despite being careful, it would seem that I haven’t been careful enough. The new card will not be leaving my view when transactions are made.


  1. Charlie Bell
    January 20, 2009

    Hello Mark,
    Interesting that you believe UK’s Chip & Pin to be more secure – not so!! Wendy had her purse stolen from her shop in Finchley recently. Within a couple of hours they had used her Barclaycard in 3 shops. The police said that a PIN number provides no protection whatsoever, you can buy a card reader for £15 over the counter that will read your PIN. Also the thieves managed to draw £1200 cash in 3 consecutive transactions from the Halifax branch in Finchley. The Halifax account terms and conditions allows “customers” to withdraw £1200 on production of their card, no evidence of identity nor PIN number required. The police siad they could nothing, even with CCTV footage in the bank. How can banks be so complacent!!

  2. Malcolm P. MacPherson
    June 9, 2010

    I recently had my credit card copied. I received a call from the bank, advising my card had been cut off. My practical problem was that I needed my credit card the very next day to purchase some important software for my business. Because I only carry one credit card, this was a problem. The bank was kind enough to expedite the sending of my replacement card (at great expense to them), but I realized through this process that I needed to get another credit card so as not to be left in a pinch again.

    Malcolm P. MacPherson

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