In the modern age, it’s easy to be bombarded with frightening advice on what you should or shouldn’t do if you want to protect your identity and your cash. Technology is evolving, and with it, new ways for hackers and scammers to get at your hard-earned cash. But that’s no reason to live in fear. There are several things you can do, including properly using and monitoring your debit card usage, to lower your risk of fraudulent account activity.
Debit cards can be helpful when you need to get cash quickly at your bank’s ATM, live on a budget or make store purchases when you don’t have enough cash. However, debit cards can have a higher risk of fraud than credit cards as they are directly tied to your bank account. If your account is compromised, the money can be taken out quickly, and it’s not protected as heavily by the government as a credit card.
In the event your card is lost or stolen, make sure you report it to your bank within two days to avoid liability for any charge that exceeds $50.00. If you didn’t lose your card but notice a discrepancy in your account statement, you have 60 days to notify your bank of the fraudulent charge, or you might be fully liable. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a debit card, it just means you need to be careful about when and how you use it. Check out these tips to manage your debit card use responsibly and avoid fraud.
- Use caution at ATMs, and avoid machines on the street. One tactic involved in debit card fraud is skimming. This is when a device is placed over the card slot at an ATM to read your card and capture your checking account number and private information. Some devices may also have a camera set up to capture your PIN. As with debit cards, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use an ATM, but you should avoid machines on the street or in gas stations that look battered or worn. It’s best to use ATMs that are consistently monitored, like the ones at your local branch.
- Avoid debit cards in situations when you are at higher risk for fraud. While you don’t want to rack up credit card debt, there are certain times when it is wise to pay with your credit card rather than your debit card. Credit cards offer more federal protection, and it’s often easier to repair damage from fraudulent purchases.
Don’t use your debit card at gas stations. Payment terminals at gas stations are another target for skimming. Using your credit card or paying in cash instead of your debit card will reduce your loss and liability if you are a victim of this tactic.
Avoid using your debit card online. Using your credit card online doesn’t guarantee you won’t be hacked, but it does protect the cash in your bank account. If you need to use your debit card online, look for the Verisign® Secured checkmark symbol before entering your information.
- Secure your computer. If you use your personal computer for online banking or shopping, make sure you have anti-virus software installed. It’s also important to remember that banks will never ask you to enter personal information online – so don’t click on links or provide your PIN, checking account number or social security number if prompted. Call your bank if you ever receive an email asking for this information.
- Take a daily inventory of your wallet. Because you only have two days to report a stolen debit card before you are liable, it’s a good idea to check your wallet every night to make sure you have your cards.
- Monitor your account with secure online and mobile banking. Online and mobile banking security has improved with technology. Both services offer you the opportunity to check your bank account balance and transactions as often as you need to. This can help you catch fraudulent transactions and reduce liability. Plus, mobile banking security and convenience lets you check your account every day if you want to.
Consistently monitoring your bank account can reduce repercussions
If you carefully use your debit card and guard private information like your PIN and checking account number, you may be better protected against fraud. It’s also important to monitor your bank account activity on a regular basis to quickly identify and counteract fraud. Look for a bank with a secure plan that will provide identity protection and credit monitoring to alert you in case of fraudulent activity.