WPS warns public of increase in payment card theft in Winnipeg

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The Winnipeg Police Service is warning Winnipeggers as they have received several reports in recent weeks of stolen purses and wallets.

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According to the police, the stolen payment cards are used to withdraw funds from ATMs using the victim’s personal identification number (PIN). Suspects can work alone but often in groups to obtain someone’s PIN using a technique called “shoulder surfing” while the victim enters it at a store or ATM.

Suspects often use distraction techniques to worry victims and steal their purse, wallet or payment cards. Thieves use the cards to make ATM withdrawals in quick succession until the funds run out or the bank detects fraud and deactivates the cards.

WPS says that if multiple cards are taken, suspects will attempt to withdraw from all cards as it is common for people to use the same PIN for each card.

People can take precautions by making sure no one is standing nearby when entering PIN codes, using their hand to protect themselves when entering codes, never leaving their wallet or purse behind unattended, being wary of people who may interact with you when loading purchases into your vehicle or exiting an ATM.

Police are also asking people to immediately report any lost or stolen payment cards to their bank and to review statements for fraud.

If your cards have been stolen, police suggest using a mobile banking app or online banking to lock stolen cards and create a different PIN for each card.

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Elaine R. Knight