5 risky places to swipe your debit card
Your debit card and credit card may look the same, but there is one major difference between these two pieces of plastic: what if a criminal uses one of them.
Credit cards fall under the Fair Credit Billing Act, which limits your liability for unauthorized charges to a maximum of $ 50. And in most cases, you won’t owe anything thanks to zero liability protection.
Debit cards, however, are another story. They fall under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, which sets different limits depending on when you report unauthorized charges. Wait more than two business days to report these charges and you may owe up to $ 500. And if you don’t notice the charges for more than 60 days, you may not be able to get your money back.
There are a few basic steps you can take to protect your debit card. Here’s an overview of where to avoid using it, along with tips on how to take a closer look at the card that’s directly related to your. current account.
1. Summary vending machines
Thinking of withdrawing money from that ATM outside the convenience store? Think again.
“Consumers should be careful with isolated ATMs or ATMs not affiliated with a known financial institution,” says Bruce Dorris, CPA, president and CEO of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). “Consumers should also be sure to look for any attachments or devices near the card passage / insertion, as a skimmer may attempt to collect the card information as well as the PIN code. “
Skimmers can read all the information stored in your card’s magnetic stripe when you swipe it. It is best to use an ATM inside a retail outlet or other busy, well-lit area.
2. Fuel pumps
While gas stations are slowly updating their payment terminals to accept more secure smart cards, many pumps remain easy targets for criminals who want to install skimming devices.
“Consumers should particularly avoid using their debit cards at gasoline pumps given their increased vulnerability to skimming activities,” explains Jason Zirkle, CFE, director of training at ACFE. “It’s much safer to pay inside or use a credit card at the pump because credit cards have legal protections against consumer fraud that don’t exist with debit cards. “
3. Bars and restaurants
Would you ask a stranger to hold a large sum of money while you enjoy a drink or finish the dinner? It’s kind of what you do if you give your debit card to open a tab in a bar or let a waiter disappear with your card to process your payment. There are a lot of headlines where the service staff steal customers’ cards. If you need to hand over a card to someone who will need to remove it from your sight, use your credit card because of the enhanced liability protections.
4. Anywhere you feel slightly uncomfortable
Outside of food and beverage outlets, here’s a simple rule to follow anytime you make an in-person transaction that requires your card: If it sounds suspicious to you, don’t take the risk.
“Common sense is the rule of thumb for consumers and transactions of all kinds,” says John Buzzard, chief analyst, fraud and security, Javelin Strategy and Research. “For example, if the clerk insists on processing your payment card when a self-service payment terminal is readily available, this may indicate that something unusual is at stake.”
5. In line
The Coronavirus pandemic paved the way for an unprecedented number of people shopping online. Everywhere consumers go, criminals follow. TransUnion found a wave of phishing, scams and identity theft attempts targeting home shoppers throughout 2020. As you shop more online, Buzzard recommends using a payment method that allows you to do not enter your card number and personal information.
“If you are using a browser to purchase items, make sure it is a merchant you trust who has a payment option you feel comfortable with, like PayPal or something else. encrypted payment option that keeps your payment card information without having to enter any data, ”he says.
Use your smartphone to make payments to outsmart fraudsters
You can’t buy everything from the comfort of your sofa. More and more traditional retailers are offering payment options that don’t require your physical debit card. In August 2020, data from the National Retail Federation showed that 56 percent of retailers accepted mobile payments, and that number looks set to increase as more and more buyers want to avoid touching anything in the wake of COVID-19. This is good news for the security of your card.
“Please take advantage of digital wallets and all the widely known ‘paid’ ones,” Buzzard says. “Whenever you make a payment using any of these methods, your payment card information is not exchanged with the merchant but rather with a replacement token which is a more secure encrypted transaction. You can also purchase quickly get gasoline to the pump using these methods.
While the transaction is safer, it’s important to remember that your mobile wallet is a gold mine for a potential thief. Buzzard insists on the need to follow the basics of smartphone security.
- “Turn on ‘find my phone or my device’s location’ in case you lose your mobile device,” he says. “If your device is missing, you can locate or erase it remotely to protect sensitive information.”
- “Everyone with a smartphone should have an automatic lock screen,” adds Buzzard. “There really is no excuse not to protect your payment applications from criminals. Face scans [and] fingerprint protectors known as biometrics work wonders to protect your information. You just need to use them.
However, don’t let your mobile device fool you into believing that your information is 100% secure.
“Cell phones are susceptible to malware, which can steal your card information from your mobile wallet,” says Zirkle. “The vast majority of this mobile malware is downloaded through phishing, so be careful when clicking unfamiliar links on your phone in text messages or emails. Finally, again, credit cards in a mobile wallet will always be more secure than using debit cards due to legal protections. “
Keep a watchful eye on your account
No matter how you are safe with your payments, the reality is that fraud is always a possibility. In addition to monitoring where you use your debit card, spend as much energy monitoring your checking account activity.
“The best thing to do is monitor your own bank and credit card accounts every week, if not every day,” Zirkle says. “If you spot any unusual transactions, verify them with your spouse or other account holders, then immediately notify the bank or card issuer.”