How to keep your debit card safe and secure from theft

October 24, 2014

Debit cards are a great convenience  but they can leave you vulnerable to identity theft. Here's how to keep your debit card safe from thieves and scammers.

How to keep your debit card safe and secure from theft

Track your transactions

The best way to take control of your finances is to keep track of all your payments and purchases on a daily basis.

  • By tracking your transactions, you'll be able to tell immediately if a charge shows up that shouldn't be there.
  • The good news is that debit cards are protected by their issuers, so if you suspect fraudulent transactions, immediately call the bank that issues your card.
  • Your bank will put a hold on the card to stop all further charges and will also make sure that your stolen funds are compensated. In addition, you'll be issued a new card with a completely different account number and PIN.

Be careful where you use your card

One simple way to protect your debit card is to be careful where you use it.

  • Avoid using independent ATMs; instead, choose a bank-sponsored ATM machine with plenty of security cameras. Make sure it's in a well-lit area and be aware of anyone hanging around nearby. If you're uncomfortable, skip that machine and find another one.
  • If you absolutely have to hand your card over to a retail clerk or cashier, keep a sharp eye on it until it's returned to you.
  • If you're dining out, use a credit card because it negates the risk of handing over your debit card to a dishonest employee.

Using your card online

Be careful when using your debit card online.

  • Only deal with reputable retailers, and make sure that the website is encrypted for your safety.
  • Unfortunately, even encrypted sites can be hacked, and with Internet fraud on the rise experts agree that it's safer not to use your debit card online unless it's absolutely necessary.
  • Instead, use a credit card or Internet banking service for your online purchases.

Protect your PIN

Your PIN is the key to your bank account. That innocuous-looking number is actually embedded into your card's microchip, which is why it's imperative that you protect it at all times.

  • Don't share it with anyone, and don't say it out loud where you can be overheard, even if you're in an area of presumed safety, such as a bank.

For peace of mind

If you want complete peace of mind with your debit card, the safest thing you can do is to connect it to a separate bank account, where you can keep just enough funds to cover your debit card activity. That way, your checking and savings accounts won't be at risk in case there's fraudulent activity or a security breach.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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