Cops advise caution for debit users

A cardholder’s protection of their pin is important to prevent theft. Police recommend practicing the “hover and cover” method to every credit and debit card holders.

By Emily Hiltz

Detective/Constable Dana Drover sits in front of a POS terminal. (Emily Hiltz photo)

A cardholder’s protection of their pin is important to prevent theft. Police recommend practicing the “hover and cover” method to every credit and debit card holders.

“Don’t be afraid to pick up the point-of-sale terminal, or bend over, and protect it with your hand as well when you enter your pin code,” explained Detective Constable Dana Drover of the Halifax Regional Police.

Changing your pin routinely is also smart. Drover describes it as having an old key to a door lock; once a pin is changed someone can’t get your information.

Example of a point-of-sale terminal (Emily Hiltz photo).

“The main thing is to never ever share your pin with anyone,” said Drover. “It is your personal identification number not someone else’s.”

As technology gets more advanced, point-of-sale terminals get more convenient for the public. Twenty years ago, your credit card had to be physically run through the cash register. Now waiters and waitresses carry terminals around with them, and customers at stores are able to do their transactions themselves. However, the POS machines need to be protected.

“Many times these are organized criminal gangs that do this and many of them come from central and western Canada,” explained Drover. “They will literally travel the country doing these crimes.”

The criminal gangs who are committing the POS terminal thefts need to move in order to avoid detection and identification. If they travel hundreds of kilometres across the country, it is less likely the local police will recognize them.

“It’s important the police agencies across the country communicate with each other,” said Drover.

Related Links
Point-of-sale Advisory
Fraud Awareness Month
Halifax Regional Police Contact Page

By sharing information it helps police to identify the gangs that travel around the country committing theft.

It’s also important for businesses to be aware of the possibilities of POS terminal theft because they need to protect the integrity of their machines.

Examples of technologies used to commit POS fraud (Emily Hiltz photo).

“The main thing they can do is make sure that these POS terminals are securely fastened to a fixed point,” explained Dover.

If you suspect that your debit or credit card has been compromised, you should notify your bank or credit card agency and the police immediately.

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Detective/Constable Dana Drover explains how to protect your credit and debit card information