By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A leading accountant and fraud expert yesterday urged Bahamians to be aware of the fraud risks associated with debit card usage, noting its duel benefit has been a "blessing and a curse".
Kendrick Christie, a Grant Thornton partner and certified fraud examiner, told Tribune Business that while consumer debit cards once were only ATM cards, most banks operating in The Bahamas have turned them into VISAs as well.
"This has been a blessing and a curse as it benefits consumers who want to limit their debt and reduce their cash on hand, however, it introduces a fraud risk in that the debit card does not have the approval delay that credit cards have and consumers can be out of cash immediately as fraudsters can wipe their account out," said Mr Christie.
"I have had bankers here in The Bahamas admit that this dual benefit to the debit card has created a few problems for their credit card centres and anti-fraud units as some Bahamians are not aware or do not consider the fraud risks of a debit card."
Mr Christie yesterday urged Bahamians to:
Limit the cash on hand in the card linked to the debit card and consider two accounts- one linked to the debit card and the other for personal savings.
Be careful of the locations you use your debit card at- tyre shops, online purchases, for major purchases - suppose the good is defective?, restaurants, one stop operations- are a no no.
3.Always have sight of your card, if they have to take it away to some back location, this is never good.
4.Be careful of pay pal accounts as someone can obtain your VISA ATM details and link it to a pay pal account.
5.Use only a credit card online, fraud is on the rise and online fraud is vicious with whole bank accounts wiped out.
6.Monitor your account daily- if you spot a transaction late on your debit visa card, you can find it may be difficult to recover the funds.
7.Call your bank credit card centre or notify through the regular means, this will help them to monitor for unusual activity.
Mr Christie's warning comes after Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) on Monday confirmed some of its Bahamian Visa debit and Visa credit card holders had fallen victim to "skimming", with some irate customers reporting "thousands of dollars" having been wiped off their accounts.
Jacqueline Taggart, RBC's director of strategic and corporate communications for the Caribbean, responding to Tribune Business inquiries, said: "RBC confirms that we have identified a skimming incident that has victimised a number of our VISA debit and VISA credit cards in The Bahamas in a coordinated and aggressive criminal effort. We are now in the process of contacting clients who have been affected."