Prevention of theft and frauds for business people
Home The Partners The Information Kit Français
Card Fraud and Shoplifting
Armed Robbery
Counterfeit Money
Theft and Fraud in the Workplace
Crime Prevention through Social Development

Card Fraud and Shoplifting

Credit card fraud
Debit card fraud
Cheque fraud
The power to put someone under arrest

Each year, fraud costs businesses millions of dollars. This includes:

  • Credit card fraud; (Counterfeit cards, lost or stolen cards, fraudulent telephone or Internet transactions, deferred payments)
  • Debit card fraud;
  • Cheque fraud.

The losses easily climb. We could prevent them with a little care and a good layout of the premises.

Credit card fraud


In 2003, there were more than 50 million credit cards in circulation in Canada. The sales volume exceeded 154 billion dollars!

Counterfeiters are mastering technologies which have become less and less costly and more and more perfected. They can now decode and alter information on magnetic strips. They copy information to counterfeit cards which they have produced. When you add cards which are lost or stolen to this, they represent almost 25% of the losses resulting from credit card fraud.

The recommendations which follow will help you to prevent credit card fraud and avoid insurance claims. They will also help you maintain the ability to offer your clients the opportunity to pay by credit card.

Develop the habit of retaining the card until the transaction is completed!

1. Examine the card. Is the numerical impression clean? Are they properly aligned, of the same size and style? Have the signature area or the magnetic strip been altered or modified? When you run your fingers across it, does the hologram seem to be well impregnated into the card?

2. Verify the buyer's identity. Remember that only the individual whose name is in raised print on the card is authorized to use it. Compare this name with that of the client, by means of some proof of identification.

3. Validate the credit and the card. After entering the amount of the transaction, slide the card through the reader. This step will inform you if the card has been stolen. Next, compare the name and the numbers imprinted on the invoice with those on the card.

4. Verify the expiry date. Never accept a card with an expired date.

5. Approve the signature. Carefully compare the signature which the client has just entered on the invoice with that on the card. If you have any doubts, ask him to show at least two pieces of identification, including one with his photo and signature.

6. Always take an imprint of the card during manual operations.

If you still have doubts as to the identity of the purchaser, even after having received authorization from the centre:
1. End the transaction;
2. Retain the card, if possible.
Do not place yourself in danger. If the individual insists on having the card back, give it to him. If he leaves, do not follow him.
Call the police.

Be especially watchful of a customer who:

  • shops alone or with unruly individuals who distract your attention;
  • easily and quickly takes out his credit card;
  • purchases the same article several times;
  • buys quickly, even an expensive product, without concern about the guarantee, quality or price;
  • insists on leaving with a cumbersome product himself (furniture, electrical home appliances, etc.) even if delivery is free;
  • makes a first purchase, leaves the store, then comes back again;
  • asks to split the purchase amount over several cards;
  • makes several small purchases to remain under the credit limit;
  • pretends to have forgotten his photo identification papers;
  • appears too young to hold a credit card;
  • signs the invoice slowly or awkwardly.


When you mention this code to the employee at the authorization centre, it allows you to inform them, without alerting the customer, that you suspect a fraudulent transaction. They will ask you questions to which you have only to answer "yes or no".


Nearly 15% of losses related to credit cards originate from transactions where you do not have the card on hand. Orders by telephone or Internet fall under in this category.


  • Obtain the necessary information to identify the purchaser: family name, given name, date of birth, complete address.
  • Request telephone numbers where the individual may be reached days and evenings and verify their validity at
  • Obtain the card number, the name of the cardholder and the name of the issuing bank.
  • Be wary of large orders and requests for speedy delivery (possibility of stolen card or temporary address).


  • Be particularly careful of purchases from abroad or made by irregular customers. Consult your list of clients.
  • Be wary of purchases paid with several cards from the same address or several small purchases with the same card.
  • Consult a business that specializes in control and certification services for payment by Internet. They will help you find the system which best suits your needs.


This service enables the customer to pay only the taxes on the purchase. Under contract, he undertakes to settle the balance of the invoice later at an agreed upon date. Be careful! If the merchant accepts a fraudulent card, he loses his merchandise. Even the invoiced taxes will not be reimbursed.

  • In the case of a deferred payment, always obtain a credit check from a firm specializing in this service.
  • Wait until you have received the results of the credit check before allowing a customer to take possession of your merchandise.

Top of the page

Debit card fraud

Certain fraud artists observe consumers when they enter their personal identification number (PIN) during a withdrawal or payment. Others even modify the card reader in order to record the information included on the magnetic strip.

Three elements to be observed during debit card transactions:

Adopt the good habit of retaining the card until the transaction is completed!

1. The card

  • Quickly glance to see if the card appears real: clean numbers, well aligned, of the same size and style, smooth and intact magnetic strip.

2. The PIN

  • Ensure that your customers may enter their PIN shielded from inquisitive eyes.

3. The card reader

  • Regularly ensure that your card reader has not been tampered with.
  • Never hesitate to inform your service provider of abnormalities or suspicious situations.

Top of the page

Cheque fraud

Establish a procedure for payment by cheque and assure yourself that your employees respect it. Do not appoint more than two individuals responsible for authorizing cheques.


  1. Verify the identity of the person by means of two identification cards, including one with a photo.
  2. Have the cheque signed or endorsed in your presence.
  3. Compare the signature on the cheque with those on the identification cards. If in doubt, do not accept the cheque.
  4. Ensure that the cheques are intact and unaltered.
  5. Verify that the details on the cheque are accurate.
  6. Never approve a cheque where the amount exceeds that of the purchase.
  7. Write the invoice number on the back of the cheque.
  8. Never automatically accept company cheques. Despite their "official" appearance, they can be counterfeit.
  9. Be cautious with customers who attempt to negotiate a second cheque after an earlier authorization.
  10. Be wary of customers who appear too young to have a bank account and to be cashing cheques.

Top of the page


You can put a stop to shoplifting by following these few suggestions.

Store layout: Low counters, wide aisles, good lighting and mirrors will help you to properly see what is happening in your establishment. Place the cash register at the entrance and greet the customers. Ensure that the interior of your business is visible from the street.

Memorize your prices: If someone has changed a tag, you will know right away.

Watch individuals who are eating in the store: (ex.: candies, drinks). They may leave without paying.

Pay attention to vandals: Certain individuals deliberately damage packaging or a product to claim a discount.

Protect articles of value: Place them in locked display cases. Remove only one article at a time. Lock the display case every time you remove or replace an article.

Control the fitting room: Limit the number of garments being tried at one time. Ensure that the room is empty when a customer leaves.

Verify the merchandise at the cash register: Ensure that the number of articles in the package corresponds with the indicated price.

Do not allow yourself to be distracted: A customer may draw you to a corner of the store while his accomplice, left unattended, steals your merchandise.

Complicate life for thieves: Set up displays which are rigged with empty packaging or with partial articles only. Fasten hangers on which valuable clothing are displayed to counters or alternate the direction you place them. Put bargain products and cumbersome products which are difficult to steal at the rear of the store. Place your most expensive products far from doors and windows, atop shelving. Affix security labels to your products. Request that your customers leave their bags at the entrance.

Install a good video surveillance system: Monitors, which are in plain sight, dissuade thieves. See to it that the cameras record not only all the comings and goings but also all transactions at the cash register.

Adopt a zero tolerance policy: Never let a theft go unpunished. Inform on thieves.

Top of the page

The power to put someone under arrest

The criminal code states that you have the power to arrest a person caught red-handed. Therefore, you have to have seen the individual:
  1. take the merchandise;
  2. hide it and;
  3. leave the store with it.

Use force only when necessary and make sure you are safe.

When putting someone under arrest:

  • ask for assistance from an employee and make sure you are safe;
  • identify yourself;
  • explain to the person the grounds for the arrest;
  • inform the person of his rights to an attorney;
  • call the police;
  • do not touch or move stolen goods;
  • police officers will collect and take care of the evidence.

Useful Prevention Tips
How safe is your Business?
Useful links

Home | Français | Disclaimer

logo Québec
© Gouvernement du Québec