Credit and Debit Card Fraud in Mexico

Understand how your card details may be stolen and what to do about it...

Credit and debit card fraud is a significant problem in Mexico. Some financial institutions in Mexico are beginning to implement EMV technology (also known as “chip and pin” cards). However, the majority of credit and debit cards issued by Mexican institutions use magnetic-strip technology and can be easily counterfeited in a matter of seconds.

Additionally, while Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) are necessary to use credit or debit cards at Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs or Cashpoints), in most instances PINs are not required by point-of-sale devices, and signatures are rarely checked. Many vendors will ask for identification when cards are used for purchases over a certain threshold; however, policies are not consistent and are not always followed. For this reason, a lost or stolen card is very vulnerable to fraudulent use.

Many transactions in Mexico require disclosure of a considerable amount of personal information, including birthdates, proof of address and utility bills. Foreigners may also be required to provide copies of passports and residency visas. In combination with credit or debit card information, access to this personal information facilitates identity theft. Cardholders should be particularly cautious about providing information that could be used to gain online access to credit or bank accounts.

Card 'skimming' is highly sophisticated and the devices used are increasingly difficult to detect. Customers using credit or debit cards should be vigilant while the transaction is taking place, and should not allow their card to leave their sight, however briefly. Ideally, customers should ask to insert the card into the reader themselves, and should be alert to any indications that the machine has been tampered with – extra layers on the number pad, loose reader slots, or exposed wires.

These precautions should also be observed at ATMs, particularly those located off bank premises. ATMs in banks and shopping centers are generally less vulnerable to tampering, but users should always inspect any ATM for signs of tampering, or indeed for anything that looks suspect (inconsistent color schemes, different surfaces or moldings). Additionally, care should be taken to completely cover the number pad while entering a PIN, as pinhole cameras are becoming more common.

Card Protections

The security of cards and the protections offered to victims of credit or debit card fraud vary by institution and by the type of card. Some institutions offer a text message service to alert cardholders of purchases over a certain amount, of unusual account activity, or of online requests to change phone numbers or reset passwords. Generally, credit cards offer more protections than debit cards, and credit card companies will reimburse victims of fraud. Cardholder protections cannot be taken for granted, however – cardholders should be sure to discuss security, protections, reimbursement policies, and related matters with their financial institution.

Credit and debit cardholders should regularly monitor their accounts for unauthorized transactions. Irregular transactions, and lost or stolen credit or debit cards should be immediately reported to the issuing institution.

To Report Loss, Theft or Fraud

  • American Express (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
    In Mexico (01800) 001 3600
    In other countries +52 (81) 8319 9111
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  • American Express (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
    In Mexico (01800) 001 3600
    In other countries +52 (81) 8319 9111
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  • Banamex (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
    In Mexico City BANAMEX-1 / (55) 2262 6391
    In the US or Canada 1 800 BANAMEX / (1 800) 226 2639
    In other countries (1 636) 722 6799
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  • Banco Inbursa
    In Mexico City (55) 5447 8000
    In Mexico (01800) 909 0000
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  • Banco Santander (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
    In Mexico City (55) 5169 4300
    In Mexico (01800) 501 0000
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  • Banorte
    In Mexico City (55) 5140 5600
    In Mexico 01 800 BANORTE / (01800) 226 6783
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  • BBVA Bancomer
    In Mexico City (55) 5226 2663
    In Mexico (01800) 226 2663
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  • HSBC Mexico (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
    In Mexico City (55) 5721 3390
    In Mexico (01800) 712 4825
    Outside of Mexico +52 (55) 5721 3390
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  • Scotiabank (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
    In Mexico City (55) 5728 1900
    In Mexico (01800) 704 5900

Websites for banks not listed here can be found on the Mexican Bank Association website (in Spanish)