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Don't forget to PIN after shopping

Some of you would have already received a notification from your bank (and those who haven't can expect one soon) regarding change in the usage of your debit card for shopping.

Till now, when shopping at the merchant outlets or buying petrol or dining at the restaurants through your debit card, all you had to do was to sign the 'charge slip' generated on swiping the card on the Point of Sale (POS) terminal.

With effect from Dec 1, 2013, this will not be the end of story. There is one more step added by RBI to complete the transaction. In addition to signing the charge slip, you would also have to punch in your Debit Card ATM PIN number in the POS machine. Only then would be transaction be considered authentic.

This, as you would appreciate, is being done to curb the misuse of debit cards; which has become quite rampant in the recent past. Earlier, if your card got stolen it was very easy to misuse as hardly anyone cross-checked the signature and even otherwise it was not difficult to forge the signature. Now that entering the 'secret' PIN becomes mandatory, merely stealing the card will not help.

This, however, in a way also increases the risk. Earlier, as long as you were using your PIN to withdraw cash at ATMs, where you are normally alone, there was little chance of anyone else getting to know your PIN. But now that you have to enter your PIN (a) more often and (b) that too in crowded places, there is high risk of someone glancing and knowing what number you have punched in.

Logically, therefore, you have to be very careful while entering your PIN on the POS machine. 

- One of the most obvious precautions is that you should punch in the number yourself. If would not be wise to tell your PIN number to the shopkeeper / petrol pump attendant / waiter at the restaurant. 
- Besides, you must cover your hand so that no one is able to see the numbers you are punching in. 
- Given the increased frequency, it would be advisable to change your PIN every few months; instead of using the same PIN for years as many people do.
- And it goes without saying, your PIN should be a random number. Date of birth, Car No., Simple numbers etc. are a strict no.

Many banks prominently advertise safety measures for passwords, PINs, online shopping etc. You would do well to read them from time to time and, more importantly, FOLLOW THEM.

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