HELP! Money has been drained from my bank account.


HELP! Money has been drained from my bank account.

I encounter such complaints all the time. On inquiring, more than three quarters of the complainants report having an ATM card linked to the said bank account. And, while some cases involve internal fraud or system glitches, majority of the cases emanate from leakage of card information and consequent scamming.

Did you know that all one needs to spend the money on your card, and consequently, in your bank account (in the case of ATM cards) is the card number, expiry date and last three digits at the back of the card? With these, one can shop, pay for hotels and airfare, etc online.

Now, this information is out there but it just doesn’t seem to reach enough people. So, people misplace their cards and don’t bother calling the card issuer to block the card.

Scammers and their accomplices collect card information and sell it to the highest bidder on the dark web. And whoever buys the information has unlimited access to the money that can be accessed through the card. Well, until it is blocked.

Losing your card isn’t the only way; there are all types of card skimmers that, when installed on a POS machine, steal your card information. The same narrative follows.

If this info doesn’t scare you enough to ditch the cards you currently own, at least consider these tips.

  • Do away with your ATM card and use mobile banking instead. An ATM card gives a scammer access to all the money in your bank account. Scammers know that people are quick to report card loss, so they move swiftly to exit as much as they can.
  • Have your card issuer set limits on the maximum that can be spent from the card per day, week, month, etc. You already know your spending habits; work with those.
  • If your primary reason for having an ATM card is shopping, consider going for a prepaid card instead. With this, you load money onto it manually. It is not connected to your bank account, so it keeps your risk exposure low.
  • When replacing your cards, insist on getting cards that have 3D security. 3D-secured cards require you to get and key in an OTP or secret code to authenticate online transactions. This way, you are safe, even if your card information is stolen.
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