PIN Thefts Impacting Winnipeggers

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Protect your payment card and PIN
Protect your payment card and PIN

WINNIPEG – NEWS – In the past several weeks, the Winnipeg Police Service has received several reports about purses/wallets being stolen and the payment cards contained within.

The payment cards are subsequently used to withdraw funds at ATMs using the victim’s Personal Identification Number (PIN).

The suspect(s) works alone or often in a group to obtain a victim’s PIN by using the technique of “shoulder surfing” while the victim enters their PIN at a retail location or ATM.

Once the PIN is surreptitiously obtained, the suspect(s) will often use distraction techniques to preoccupy the victim and steal their purse, wallet or actual payment cards.

The thieves use the payment cards to make ATM withdrawals in rapid succession until the funds are depleted or the issuing bank detects the fraud and deactivates the cards.

If multiple payment cards are taken, the suspect(s) will attempt to make withdrawals on all of the cards. It is common for people to use the same PIN for each payment card.

Members of the public can take precautions to protect themselves by implementing the following strategies:

• Make sure no one is standing nearby while using and entering your pin code
• Use your hand, wallet or body to shield as a shield while entering your PIN code
• Never leave your wallet or purse unattended, even for a short period of time, e.g., in a shopping cart or vehicle
• Be wary of individuals who may engage with you while you are loading your purchases into your vehicle or leaving an ATM
• Immediately report any lost or stolen payment cards to your financial institution
• Review all transactions/statements to identify any fraudulent activity
• If your cards have been lost or stolen, consider using a mobile banking app or online banking to lock your cards from potential fraudulent usage.
• Use a unique PIN for each payment card.

People should also be familiar with their cardholder agreements, as liability for fraudulent transactions can vary depending on the circumstances.