I have a special relationship with my debit card. Don’t you?
Having the card so readily available to use at almost every merchant I visit is pretty freeing. Until you get a call from the bank, specifically their fraud department. Ugh!
Someone duplicated my debit/credit card and used it at a Foot Locker over 300 miles away. *shakes fist in the air*
No disrespect to Foot Locker but I haven’t shopped there since the 90s. It’s not the fact that money was taken out of my account fraudulently. Well, not only. It’s more of the thought that I was careless in protecting myself, my card, and my do-re-mi. *kicks rocks*
After speaking with the fraud department, I took a look at the last two weeks I used my debit card. Today, I’m looking at every one of those merchants with an eagle-eye and a *side-eye*.
Here are six tips to avoid debit card (and credit card) fraud:
- Be aware of the four riskiest places to use your debit card: outdoor and non-bank ATMs, pay-at-the-pump gas stations, online, and restaurants.
- Use cash. If your bank is one of the 10 best banks of 2015 according to U.S. News & World Report, you can probably find a branch somewhere between home and work. Stop in and make a withdrawal from a teller. I hear using cash can be a better way to budget too.
- Sign up for banking alerts (texts and/or emails) for debit and credit transactions. Also check your financials statements often.
- Make sure your contact information is correct with your bank and update your security questions on your account.
- Pay close attention to the machine you are using to pay. This one is critical and one we overlook due to our busyness. If something looks off with the machine, if seals are broken, unusual signage, or if there is a lurker nearby, choose an alternate form of payment or go to another location.
- Change your PIN often.
Bonus tip from my friend Angela, a financial wiz: Instead of your debit card, use a credit card you can pay off monthly. Credit card companies offer additional protection and security. Plus, your cash is not impacted.
Good luck and stay money safe.