How Do People Steal Debit Card Information?

Thieves can steal your debit card information without ever touching your card.

Your debit card is a direct link to your bank account, so thieves are always on the prowl for your card's information. Due to new technology, it's not necessary for thieves to physically take your debit card to use it; they can simply steal your information from ATM machines, card readers and during online transactions.

Card Readers

Thieves can attach "skimmers" to ATM machines, card readers in stores, on soda and snack machines and pretty much anything else that you swipe your debit card through. A skimmer is a small electronic device attached to a card reader that stores debit card numbers and PINs. A skimmer is virtually unnoticeable. A good way to spot a skimmer on an ATM machine is to remember how the ATM machine accepts your card. Most ATMs use a motorized device that takes your card in and ejects it back out. If one day you are required to only swipe your card at the ATM, a skimmer is probably attached.

Dishonest Employees

If you often pay with your debit card at restaurants or anywhere that people handle your debit card, you could have your information stolen. Most employees are honest and wouldn't steal your information, but a dishonest employee only has to copy down your number and the three-digit security number on the back of your card to start shopping. Your PIN isn't necessary for her to complete transactions, as she can elect to use the card as credit.


One of the easiest ways for thieves to steal your debit card information is by setting up websites that offer services or items for sale. The website may or may not look legitimate, but you're unlikely to notice the difference if you're not an avid user of the Internet. During checkout, your information is transferred to the thief instead of a secure location. A good way around this is to always look for websites that have green "Https" in the browser address and only shop on sites that encrypt their information. Always look for a digital security certificate and click the certificate to make sure that it opens to a verification page, so you know the certificate isn't a fake.

Stealing your PIN

Thieves can install cameras at ATMs or secluded places where you often swipe your card. The camera is there to capture your PIN number. Advanced financial thieves don't need your card to gain access to your money, if they have your PIN that's often all they need. The thief can create counterfeit cards and withdraw cash from your bank account at an ATM. Always shield the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN. Thieves can also hack into store and bank databases where PINs are stored, and although the databases are well secured, intrusions have happened.

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