As technology moves forward and hackers and thieves become increasingly savvy, it’s easy to forget about some of the original methods of identity theft and fraud. Shoulder surfing is one of these methods. Here are three easy tips to avoid becoming a victim of a shoulder surfer.

What is shoulder surfing?

Shoulder surfing occurs when someone simply peers over your shoulder to steal personal information, such as your password, ATM PIN, or credit card number.

Examples of when this can happen:

  • When you enter your PIN on your phone
  • When you enter your PIN at an ATM
  • When you leave your computer at work unlocked when you leave your desk
  • When you read your credit card information over the phone in a public place
  • When you shop online or pay bills in a public place

3 easy tips to avoid theft from shoulder surfers

  1. Pick strong passwords.
  2. Be aware when entering your PIN or password.
    • Shield your keypad when entering your PIN information on your phone or at ATMs
    • Consider your surroundings and be aware of those close by
    • When your transaction at an ATM is done, remember to hit “NO” when asked if you would like to perform another transaction before you walk away
  3. Be cautious with your financial information in public places.

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About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at