How Can I Protect Myself from CIBC Debit Fraud Through Online Purchases, Mail Order or Phone Purchases?

We have an old chequing account at CIBC which is useful for shifting money into and out of our CIBC Investor’s Edge brokerage accounts. For years, I had a simple “Convenience Card” which I could use at the CIBC bank machines to make deposits and withdrawals. A year or so ago, though, a replacement bank card came in the mail. It’s called an Advantage Debit Card and is branded with both the VISA and the Interac logos.

Why I Disabled the Interac Flash Payment Option on This CIBC Advantage Debit Card

When I first received the card, I saw it had the Interac Flash logo. That bothered me because I never make debit purchases from this bank account. I’m not quite sure whether the Flash and Tap cards are easier for fraudsters to get data from although I’ve read stray comments that suggest they may be somewhat vulnerable.

Given that I never intend to use this option, I asked the service representative at my CIBC branch to “turn off” the Tap option used for Interac Flash. According to the flyer that came with the card, you can also phone the main CIBC number and ask to have the Flash or Tap feature disabled.

So that seemed good and I tucked the card away to use at the bank machine.

Why You Should Read Those Letters That They Mail With Your Bank Card

Imagine my surprise when almost a year later, desperate for something to read within reach of the telephone while waiting on hold because my call “is important” I browsed through the cover letter that I got with my CIBC Advantage Debit Card.

The letter states
“Your CIBC Advantage Debit Card details (for example, card number and expiry date” may be used to make debit purchases online, by phone or by mail order without a PIN or the card being present.” “….you could be liable for losses.”

Say what?!

Don’t they need a PIN or at least the security number off of the back of the card to use it to make a debit purchase?


What I Did to Protect Myself from Fraudulent Theft Using My CIBC Debit Card

I phoned in to CIBC to ask them how I could prevent purchases made
“online, by phone or by mail order” without a PIN or the card being present.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t simply turn off those three types of sales.

What they could do was block the use of the card for any and all purchases. In other words, remove the ability to use the card for debit of any kind other than a bank withdrawal from the bank machine or from the teller.

They did this by setting the limit for purchases to $0.00.

Because I will not be using this card as a debit card, I was happy to accept this solution.

What I’d Like CIBC and the Other Banks to Consider

That said, I’d like CIBC and all banks to consider just how weak the security is around this type of card. Given how they have invested heavily in a Chip and PIN technology, it seems bizarre to go back to having anyone who physically steals the card being able to make purchases using it. In fact, anyone who can “borrow” a card long enough to scribble down a few numbers could use it illegally. I know we are supposed to guard our cards endlessly, but I suspect many wallets get left unattended for a few minutes at a time, particularly in large secured offices.

In the meantime, if you have one of these cards and you don’t intend to use it for any debit purchases, consider turning it off. It’s one less thing to have to be paranoid about.

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Do you have more than one debit card? Have you got Tap, Flash and online debit enabled on all of them? What steps do you take to keep your money safe? Please share your experiences with a comment.

What Happens If a Company I Own Shares In Makes a Share Buy Back Offer For Shares Held at BMO InvestorLine?

Sometimes a company’s stock value decreases enough, or a company’s cash reserves increase so much, that the company decides it will re-purchase or buy back its own shares from its shareholders; this happened recently with a company whose stock I own in one of my BMO InvestorLine accounts: Here’s what I did.

How Did BMO InvestorLine Advise Me That a Company I Held Ownership In Had Offered to Buy Back its Own Common Shares?

I first heard about this share buyback program when I received a package in the mail from BMO InvestorLine. I owned shares in this company in my self-directed RRSP. BMO InvestorLine is my agent and holds the actual shares in its name on my behalf. So they sent me the information and asked for my instructions.

I next heard about the program via an email note sent to the email address I provided for correspondence about my BMO InvestorLine account. That email message directed me to look for details in my secure MyLink email at InvestorLine.

When I signed in to my InvestorLine account, I checked the secure email service MyLInk and there were details provided there about how to reply to this offer to purchase my shares and what my choices were.

How Did I Advise BMO InvestorLine Of My Decision Regarding the Share Buy Back Program?

The MyLink and regular mail information provided about the share re-purchase plan made it clear that I could not advise BMO InvestorLine on how to act on my behalf by providing instructions by email or fax. I had to telephone InvestorLine with my orders.

  1. So, I called the InvestorLine 1- 888 number.
  2. I typed in my ID password and account number on my phone.
  3. I selected 0 to speak to a representative.
  4. I confirmed the account and my name to the representative.
  5. I advised the representative of which of the Options I wished to select.
  6. The representative repeated my instructions for the recording and to ensure they were correct. The rep also confirmed that I only held the shares in that one account. (The rep would have asked for instructions for other holdings in other accounts if applicable.)
  7. We agreed on the instructions and ended the call. It took 15 seconds on a Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET.


What Types of Choices Were On my Share Buy Back Offer?

The company made me a variety of offers for their common share purchase program.

No fees would be charged to me for any sale.

I could offer to sell the entire amount of my holdings or only a portion.

I could offer to sell them for a fixed price between the two limits of the offer made by the company. (For example, they were offering to buy the common shares back at a price between $17 and $20.) I could choose that fixed price in 10 cent increments. (For example, I could choose to offer my shares for sale at $17.20.)

I could offer to sell them for a price to be set by the company when it bought the shares, which could be any price between $17 and $20.

I could choose not to offer any of my shares. I this case I would just continue to hold them as usual.

Why Would I Let the Company Choose the Price at Which to Buy My Shares?

It seemed odd at first to think someone would choose to let the company set the price at which they would buy the shares. Wouldn’t that mean I’d only get the lowest value for the shares?

Not necessarily. To get the lowest possible price, then enough Sellers would have to offer their shares for sale at the floating price. The Company was bound to set the purchase price as “the lowest price that enables it to purchase the maximum number of Shares properly tendered and not withdrawn pursuant to the Offer having an aggregate Purchase Price not exceeding $250 million.”

Still, you’d be taking a risk of getting the lowest price or close to it.

Did I Offer to Sell My Shares?

Nope. I have no reason to think this Company won’t continue to perform very well. I don’t need the cash. My commission at BMO is so low it would not be a factor in deciding to make a commission-free sale. So I’m holding onto my shares.

It’s probably a good decision, since the stock is already trading higher than the upper price limit. I suspect the entire buy back offer may expire unused!

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Did you ever participate in a share buy back program? Did it all proceed smoothly? Please share your experiences with a comment.