Dangers to Watch for When Using a Debit Card

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debit-card-dangers-5747689Cash is the safest way to make a purchase, but many of us have become reliant on plastic to the point that we rarely carry cash. There’s a lot written about the dangers of credit cards, but many consumers aren’t aware of the safety measures they need to put in place to protect their debit card. An online resource provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose responsibilities include upholding and enforcing the criminal laws of the United States and to investigate spies, terrorists, mobsters and computer hackers, is designed to help educate Americans in protecting against crime and fraud.

Skimming Threats at the ATM

The FBI estimates that ‘ATM skimming’ costs hundreds of millions of dollars every year and is on the rise. Debit card information is stolen by placing a hidden camera or a bogus card reader at ATM sites, especially those that are secluded or not affiliated with a bank. You may think that the ATM you’re using is perfectly normal; even if it’s located in your bank’s building. But the skimmer’s tampering captures your PIN allowing them full access to your account.

To protect against skimming, vigilance is needed whenever using an ATM. First examine the machine for signs of tampering; once you’re confident all is well, cover the key pad with your hand when punching in your personal identification number. Monitor your account for fraudulent activity and report any suspicious transactions immediately to your bank.

Danger of Letting Your Card out of Sight You may think that plunking down that debit card is the easiest way to settle a check. But an apparently innocent habit of handing over a debit card to your restaurant server can put your account at risk. Once an unscrupulous employee has your card, they can quickly scan it to steal your account number and the security code on the back, giving them the opportunity to purchase without abandonment on your dime.

Delayed Payments or Frozen Assets

Foreign travelers are more vulnerable to the threat that a prolonged payment may have on their account. If you are the victim of fraud, a delayed payment will make it difficult to recognize the fraud and report it in a timely fashion to your bank, increasing the chance of big losses. Many hotels also require a card be placed on file during check in which could be held up for up to two weeks after departure. Paying for gas with a debit card will result in a freeze of up to $75 of your account assets. If you’re not aware of the freeze, you may not have the funds needed when you go to use the card or when an automatic payment comes due. To avoid the hassle that could result when using a debit card, use cash or credit instead.

Public Wi-Fi and Online Shopping

Unless you are a tech wizard about wireless security, it’s never a good idea to use a debit card for online purchases using a public service. You are more vulnerable to hackers on the prowl in these venues. Online in general should be off limits to debit card purchases. There are no protections offered for debit cards. Always use a credit card that offers a ton of purchase protections, including a liability limit and extended warranty protection. It’s much easier to resolve a conflict with a credit card versus a debit card.

About The Author: Noreen Ruth is a popular writer for financial blogs and websites. Hoping to educate consumers, she uses government and other reputable sources to provide up-to-date, relevant news on debt settlement, credit cards, credit card applications, etc. She stays current on legislative actions that may affect a consumer’s ability to manage debt, apply for credit, use reward credit card offers and many other finance topics.

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