Do you think using a debit card is just as secure as using a credit card? It’s not, every time you use a debit card, you risk giving a thief your checking account. While a debit card looks identical to a credit card in every respect, the difference is when you use a credit card if you have fraudulent charges you can just dispute the charges and the credit card company will back you 100%. Debit cards however draw directly out of your checking account. With a debit card if you spot even a legitimate fraudulent charge you’re likely to be on the line for the charges for a significant time frame.
Debit cards are more susceptible to data breaches as well. Take for example the breach at target, over 40 million customers had their credit and debit card information stolen, and their personal pin codes as well as other customer records and personal information. Credit card users had it easy in the aftermath of this breech, unlike debit card users. Debit card users had to go through a long drawn out process to get reimbursement. These breaches are happening nearly on a monthly basis, and that’s only about the ones that are being reported. While no debit card is 100% risk free, there are a few things you can do with debit cards to limit your liability.
One of the top mistakes users of debit cards do that opens themselves up to debit card fraud is using outdoor ATM machines. These ATM’s are the perfect place for debit card thieves to skim your information. Skimming is the act of recording your customer card information and PIN code by running it through a skimmer. Skimmers are designed to fit into the card slider of any credit or debit card reader, and are designed in such a way as to allow the real transaction to occur and still steal your information unbeknownst to you. Even ATM’s that require a card to access such as inside of bank alcoves can have skimmers attached to them. A sign of a skimmer present includes ATM components that look overly used, or a slider that looks like it has something added to it, or loose if you shake the slider.
Gas stations are also prone to skimming. As you swipe your card someone near by with a laptop and mini dish or antenna can pick up your information, including your pin code and drain your account before you’re even aware you’ve been skimmed. Gas stations with pay at the pump terminals often times have little supervision and are more vulnerable to this sort of tactic. The thieves even use mini cameras to snag your pin code, and even without this there are a number of ways for them to drain your account. It is highly suggested to use gas stations where you pay at the register if you must use a debit card.
Shopping online is convenient for many people, however using your debit card to make purchases online is one of the most risky places to use your debit card. In fact online shopping is the number one place you should never use your debit card. Virus, hacking, malaware on your computer or the vendors can compromise your data. You’re also susceptible to merchant fraud by fly by night websites and overseas merchants. If you’re on wifi someone can monitor your data through your wireless network. There are simply put to many variables. Even if the transaction goes through smooth, you’re data is stored on the merchants website and is susceptible there. Many of the biggest breaches to debit cards have been by hacking data bases merchant side to steal consumers info. If you must use a debit card to purchase things online consider using a third party website such as Paypal to conduct the end point purchase. When you use Paypal your data stays with Paypal, minus your name and shipping address which of course the merchant needs to deliver your goods. If any purchase goes wrong Paypal will act as an arbitrator. Although this is not as good as dealing with a credit card company would be, they can still act as a buffer between you and the merchant.
To reduce the risk of debit card fraud and out right thievery, your best bet is to use cash, a credit card or if you must use your debit card to use at locations you are reasonably sure are safe. If you purchase online and do not have access to a credit card, use Paypal or another such service similar to Paypal. You have to exercise caution when using debit cards. If possible ask if your bank can issue you a EMV chip debit card, as these debit cards have an added layer of security to them.