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Debunking the myths on debit cards and shopping online

There are some things in life we don't share with anyone: toothbrushes, underwear, and bank card PINs. Right?

Apparently not: 14 per cent of us give out our PINs to others (please don't write in about your toothbrush- and underwear-sharing habits). And 15 per cent of Canadians have lent their credit cards to others as well.

As we kick off March as Fraud Prevention Month, Visa Canada's latest survey on credit card security points out that we still have a lot to learn -- even as it shows that we are getting smarter about how we use our cards, with fraud rates at historic lows.

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It also points out that a quarter of Canadians say that they have, at some point, been a victim of credit card fraud.

A separate survey by TD Bank shows that 79 per cent of us are afraid of becoming victims of fraud. The biggest fear is of being tricked into disclosing confidential information, either over the phone or online.

TD also provides a handy little quiz that dispels some myths about online shopping, debit cards and PINs. Here it is:

1. True or False: It's a good idea to give your debit and credit card PIN numbers to your close family and friends.

False: You should not let anyone else know or use your PIN (personal identification number), including family and friends. Avoid writing it down or carrying it in your wallet. No one but you should know your PIN - not even your bank.

2. True or False: Wi-Fi networks, like those found in coffee shops and hotel lobbies, are always completely safe for you to use.

False: You need to use caution when using unsecure Wi-Fi networks. If you're on an unsecured network, Wi-Fi bandits could try to hack into your laptop or cell phone to steal your online banking passwords, copy your contacts from email programs, or even download illegal files.

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3. True or False: When shopping online, there are simple clues to figure out whether or not a website is safe.

True: To see if a site is secure, check the lower corner of your browser window for a padlock or key icon whenever you're on a screen that sends personal information or credit card numbers. If the padlock is closed or the key is intact, security technology will scramble your credit card number and personal information as it's being transmitted to the merchant. As well, the secure website address will begins with "https://".

4. True or False: Now that I have CHIP-enabled debit and credit cards, I don't need to protect my PIN.

False: When conducting any transaction at an ATM or making a purchase, always shield the keypad when you enter your PIN

5. True or False: If your bank needs to contact you, they will email you and ask you for your account information.

False: Your bank will never contact you by email asking for account information. If you are have been emailed for this information then you have likely been "phished." Phishing refers to an online scam that seeks out personal financial information from people who believe they are sharing their information with a legitimate website or organization.

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6. True or False: When making a debit transaction, if the keypad doesn't stretch far enough, it's ok to give your card to the salesperson so that they can enter your PIN for you.

False: When making a debit transaction, never allow the merchant to take your card out of sight. It takes only seconds for fraudsters to reproduce your card. A false card combined with your PIN can provide a criminal access to your bank account.

7. True or False: If I am a victim of debit or credit card fraud, I can get my money back.

True: Canadian cardholders are protected. Visa cardholders are protected through the Visa zero-liability policy, which means they are not responsible for fraudulent or unauthorized charges on their Visa account. Victims of debit card fraud are protected by the Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Debit Card Services and are reimbursed by their financial institutions.

And if you want more security tips, Visa has a list of eight different ways fraudsters scam consumers. The truly cautious (or paranoid) can sign up for a fraud-related RSS news feed as well.

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