By Bill Ragan
A Warning to holders of Mexican Bank Accounts and Specifically Mexican Debit Cards (while this is specific to Mexico, similar cautions should be followed anywhere)
This article is to raise awareness of what I perceive to be a serious security flaw with the Debit cards issued by some, if not all, of the Mexican banks.
A friend of mine recently had her purse stolen. This was compounded by just having been to the bank and having a few thousand pesos in cash. While this was bad enough, her main concern was the replacement of credit cards, drivers license and assorted membership cards. She reported the Canadian credit cards and debit cards stolen and no attempt was made to use them. They are both “chip” cards and require a pin for each use.
Now the surprise, her Mexican bank account (Scotiabank Inverlat ) was cleaned out. How did they do this, did she have the pin number written on the back…. was it an inside job…. no, neither of these. They went to Sam’s Club and made purchases using her Scotiabank Inverlat Debit card ( and probably her Sam’s card). They could just as easily gone to Walmart or any other store as the Debit card does not require a pin number when making a retail purchase.
I deal with Bancomer and face the same situation. I wrote Bancomer and asked them if they did not see this as a significant security issue. In addition I asked for a telephone number to report lost or stolen cards, and how long between reporting a stolen card and cancellation. The only thing they responded with was a telephone number. When I called it had no English options, and unfortunately my Spanish would not allow me to understand the options. I will be taking this up directly with the Preferred Customer unit of Bancomer.
Here are my suggestions:
- Do not hang your purse on the back of your chair, keep it in plain sight
- Do not carry your Mexican debit card unless you need it that day. This is true for Scotiabank Inverlat , Banamex, and Bancomer. Not sure about other banks but check
- Have a discussion with your bank on what is needed to use a Mexican debit card in a retail store, and what the banks policy is for fraudulent use
- If no pin is required for retail purchase, express concern and ask it be noted as feedback for future improvement
- Find out how to report a lost or stolen card, try the number out, and store it on a cell phone (that you don’t keep with your wallet)