These days everything is about convenience and it has never been easier to spend your money. Every store takes your debit card, there are ATM kiosks everywhere and now you can even tap you phone in a store and pay with the stored financial information.
But does it pay to use your debit card all the time? A debit card is a direct link to your bank account and full access to your funds. Information/identity theft can take place anytime or any place. Knowing this, there may be places where it is better to leave your debit card at home.
- Online. Yes, we all shop on the Internet and it is super convenient and quick, but there is an opportunity for hackers to steal your information and go on a shopping spree. Remember during the holidays when major store chains like Target and Nordstroms had their computer systems hacked? And yes, most debit cards are protected against theft after the first $50.00, but imagine the headache of trying to get that money put back into your account and potentially not having money until the account is restored. It is much better to use a credit card when making online purchases.
- Restaurants. I say this because your server takes your card away to process your payment and while 90% of the time there is no problem, there is that 10% where the card is copied. There is even a video on YouTube that has gone viral, where a customer goes back to a McDonalds and confronts the employee that took her card, copied it and used it! This was at a McDonalds! So just be careful and use your common sense here.
- Gas stations. This one happened to me. I used my debit card at the pump and left it in the card reader! The person, who came up after me, took my card and started using it. He or she was smart only making small purchases ($10.00, $15.00), but I soon caught on and had the card cancelled. The bank restored the funds, but it was indeed a hassle and took about 30 days. So be careful here, sometimes we are moving so fast we can forget things, but the thief will be right there to profit from our mistake.
- ATMs or checkouts that look off. Identity thieves are getting better with skimmers. Making them look more and more realistic. Remember that banks typically don’t check these machines until they are running low on money, so a couple of weeks can go by before anything is discovered. Before using an ATM, parking checkout etc., really look at the machine, touch it even and make sure that it is legit.
- The Airport. This is a big one because you use a card for almost everything here. Getting boarding passes, paying for parking, getting food, etc. Everything is rushed and you are being pushed to get it done and in a hurry to catch a flight or to get out of the airport. Identity thieves are counting on this. It’s best to use a credit card in this situation or even a prepaid debit card (just calculate your potential expenses and put that amount on the card).
Some additional, quick tips:
Block the view of others when entering your PIN.
Don’t let anyone else enter your PIN ever, for any reason.
Before leaving an establishment, make sure your transaction is complete, and review the receipt.
Be aware of your surroundings before using a public ATM.