Thursday, August 1, 2019

A Debit Card Scam

Each of us has our preferred method of paying for things like pizza delivery. Some prefer cash, some credit cards, others debit cards, and a growing number use their smart phones. I’m leery about using a debit card that allows anyone direct access to my bank and only use them to get cash from an ATM. I rarely use cash, don’t trust my phone, and use credit cards with rewards whenever I can, paying off the balance each month. Which makes me a bit of a dinosaur.

If you use debit cards, make sure the cards never leave your sight. This cautionary tale comes from the Toronto, Canada area and involves pizza delivery.

You order your pizza and it arrives on time. You pay with a debit card and there’s a problem with the machine or the driver “left the machine in his car.” He’s apologetic and courteous. “Happens all the time.” He takes your card back to his car where the transaction goes through fine.

Except, the only transaction that happens is the driver takes your debit card and gives you back one that looks the same but is a fake. They leave not to deliver another pizza, but to the nearest ATM to remove money from your bank account.

The “beauty” of this scheme is the “driver” isn’t the real pizza driver. He’s an entrepreneurial scam artist willing to invest a little money in the scheme. He intercepts the driver before the pizza gets to your door, pays for your pizza, and delivers it to you in the hope you’ll fall for his debit card swindle. If you pay in cash, the scam artist is just out his time—although he might collect a tip.

It might be pizza in Toronto or a salesclerk in a convenience store in Oshkosh; the key to preventing this kind of debit card fraud is to never let the card out of your sight.

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James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree series. Full of mystery and suspense, these thrillers explore financial crimes, family relationships, and what happens when they mix. False Bottom, the sixth novel in the series—this one set in the Boston area—is now available. You can sign up for his newsletter and find more information about Jim and his books at

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