Preventing Card Fraud – The Police Show How


Preventing Card Fraud – The Police Show How

Debit cards are a popular payment means. Unfortunately, scammers exploit this. In the second interview of our series with experts, Rolf Nägeli, Head of the Prevention Department at the Zurich City Police, explains how you can protect yourself against fraud.

What counts as card fraud?

There is no such explicit article in the Swiss Criminal Code. It is commonly defined as a fraud where goods or services are purchased fraudulently by criminals using stolen/copied cards or card data. Today, however, these acts are largely assessed as the fraudulent misuse of a data processing system within the meaning of article 147 of the Swiss Criminal Code. Therefore, the criminals here are not the lawful card holders but third parties who harm both the card holder and the bank issuing the card.

How does it differ from card misuse?

Credit card misuse according to article 148 of the Swiss Criminal Code is defined as a punishable offense where the lawful holder purchases goods or services with their card, although they are unable or unwilling to pay, and, in doing so harms the bank that issued them with a card. The lawful card holder is therefore the offender here. However, such cases rarely occur in practice.

What does an attack look like from the outside?

From my perspective, there are three possible types of attack:

  1. Phishing: Here, potential victims are asked to disclose their card access details electronically. This often takes place via fake websites, e-mails, etc. Once the offenders have obtained the debit card details by these means, they can use them to make purchases throughout the world.
  2. Debiting amounts of money through contactless data transmission. Here, the offenders use payment terminals, which they put close to the victim’s wallet (usually in a crowd) and debit amounts of money up to CHF 80.00 from their account, as a code is not required up to this amount.
  3. Theft of the debit card and subsequent use by the offender, as all the details needed for a purchase are marked on the debit card.

How do I protect myself from card scammers?

Handle the card with care:

  • Store the card securely.
  • Do not give the card to third parties.
  • Adjust the card limit.
  • Apply geographical settings.

Handling personal identification numbers (PIN) and passwords securely:

  • Do not use easily identifiable number combinations.
  • Do not store your card with the PIN.
  • Always ensure your PIN is hidden when you enter it.
  • Do not give card details to third parties.

Check cards and report any anomalies:

  • Check your account statement and the card statement immediately when you receive it.
  • Report any discrepancies to the bank immediately.
  • Have the card blocked immediately if it is lost/stolen.
  • Lodge a complaint in the event of misuse.

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.