Many customers unwittingly reveal their PINs at retail outlets, restaurants

A few months ago, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made it mandatory for holders of debit and credit cards to punch in the personal identification number (PIN) while completing transactions at retail outlets across the country.

While the norm is followed to minimise frauds, there is a lot of doubt and fear among cardholders about possible misuse. There have been instances of fraud, as many people reveal the recently-obtained PINs, either in good faith or out of sheer ignorance.

According to sources at RBI-Chennai, earlier, it was easier for fraudsters to create counterfeit cards with magnetic strips, or embed details on stolen cards and misuse them.

Now several banks have started to issue cards with embedded chips, and moreover, if a cardholder keys in the wrong PIN three times, the card gets blocked for a day.

Banks have also started to provide wireless swiping machines — electronic data capture (EDC) machines. While there are no regulations against merchants seeking the PIN from customers, it is the right of the customers to punch in the PIN by themselves.

“It is safer if the customer goes to where the EDC machine is placed to key in the PIN. It is also better to cover the keypad while keying in the PIN, both inside the ATM and while using EDC machines,” said an RBI official.

“The system has to be fine-tuned further by both the public sector and private banks, as 100 per cent conversion has not taken place yet. Cardholders should not, at any cost, share their PIN and should insist on keying it in personally,” said K. Suresh Kumar, general secretary, TN Indian Oil Dealers Association.

“Not once have I shared my PIN with anyone, be it at a restaurant or a supermarket. With advancement in technology, there is a huge risk of card frauds,” said Venkata Ramanan, an accounts manager with a private company.

However, there are no specific instructions for traders. “Most banks transfer the amount to traders only after a few days. We insist customers register their mobile numbers with their banks to receive an intimation of the transaction as soon as the card is swiped,” said the RBI official.

It is better to change the PIN every three months to prevent cyber fraud. RBI is also joining hands with various banks to hold electronic banking awareness and training (e-Baat) programmes.

(Reporting by K. Manikandan, K. Lakshmi and Petlee Peter)

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