Shopping Securely with the New Debit Cards

Shopping Securely with the New Debit Cards

The additional uses of the new debit cards, such as online shopping, are very popular. Stefan Giger, Head of Debit Processes & Fraud Management at UBS in Zurich, explains how card holders can protect themselves against fraud.

You were one of the first banks to introduce the new debit cards at the end of 2020. Why?

After decades without any innovation in debit cards, we are now meeting customers’ demand for modern, digital products in the area of cards with account access, too. We have enhanced the previous V PAY and Maestro cards and equipped them with new functions, such as for online shopping. UBS Visa Debit and UBS Mastercard Debit are the debit cards of the future.

Are there cases of fraud?

Using the card in daily life and when traveling is very secure, and cases of fraud remain rare. As with the previous debit cards, it cannot be avoided that scammers will also take an interest in the latest generation of debit cards.

How do scammers try their luck?

In all cases of fraud, the perpetrators take advantage of inattentiveness by the customer to get hold of the card and the personal identification number (PIN) or to use the card details online for their own purposes.

Given that the ability to use the debit cards online became available only recently, the most common type of crime is still theft of the card by trickery after spying to obtain the PIN.

We hardly see any cases of copied magnetic strips – known as skimming – any more thanks to the chip technology used worldwide.

The expanded functions of the new cards also make them a target for traditional online crimes such as phishing. We expect such cases to increase.

A good overview of the most common types of fraud can be found at

How do you ensure the security of your products?

Prevention of card-related crimes is based on four pillars. The first consists of informing and raising awareness among card holders. Customers in particular can contribute to security by being careful with their cards and PINs.

The second pillar is the identification of unusual transactions. In the debit area, we rely on the specialists and systems at SIX, which use targeted and well-considered measures to block suspicious transactions or even block cards.

Third, restricting services and functions helps to reduce or even prevent crimes. In addition to card limits and the option to activate and deactivate functions (contactless, cash withdrawals, payments, e-commerce, etc.), these restrictions also include the confirmation of online payments with 3-D Secure by the customer.

The fourth pillar is prosecution of the perpetrators. In this context, we regularly exchange information with criminal prosecution authorities and support them with their investigations. To enable the police and public prosecutors to take action, we make sure that criminal offenses are reported.

What should card holders do if an incident occurs, and how can they protect themselves and their cards?

When using their cards for shopping or at ATMs, customers can best protect themselves by making sure they are not being observed when entering their PIN and always using their free hand to hide what they are typing from third parties. We also urge customers to block their card immediately if it is no longer in their possession. This should also be done if the card is swallowed by an ATM. Their tasks also include regularly checking their invoices and account statements.

In online card use, it is important – in addition to the usual due diligence such as regular system updates and virus protection – that card holders do not let scammers deceive them with phishing e-mails and do not undiscerningly divulge their card details. More tips, and information on how to identify suspicious e-mails, can be found at

If something does happen nonetheless, customers must contact their bank as quickly as possible. The bank will help them take the necessary steps.

No Chance for Card Fraud

The explanatory film (in German) uses the example of "phishing" to show how fraudsters operate and gives tips for preventing card fraud. So that the most popular means of payment in Switzerland remains secure.