The convenience of using a debit card is undeniable. It also helps you stay focused on managing your debt so you don’t run up your credit card balance. Debit cards can, however, become problematic because unlike credit cards, there are no protected measures in place to assist you in case your debit card gets compromised. If there are, it can sometimes take several hours to find there has been a problem. Debit cards are always good to have, certainly it’s a better alternative than not having a way to pay for your items. With Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly approaching, it’s especially important to be aware of where your debit card is most susceptible and how to take safeguarding measures against the real threat of hacking and identify theft.
- Online Shopping – Though it is nearly unavoidable, it is important to note that e-Commerce sites have been compromised. Most recently, we look at Target and Home Depot as prime examples that your debit card information isn’t necessarily safe no matter how big a company appears. Though millions of people were not directly affected, the mere fact that your bank account tied to your debit card could have been swiped at any moment is disconcerting. Major online retailers like Amazon and eBay suggest deleting your card information on any eCommerce site after every purchase – especially around the holiday seasons. The holidays are not a time for your debit card information to be stolen.
- Recurring Charges – Several of us have a site that we allow recurring charges to take place. Whether it’s a magazine subscription or even Netflix, our card information is left in the open, at the same time every month. We often don’t think about it, but going overdraft is a real possibility when we allow for recurring payments to take place. This hits us with overdraft fees and worse yet, it has the possibility of damaging our credit.
- Sketchy ATMs and Gas Stations – Both are susceptible for scammers to use a skimming device, a device that captures all the debit card information one would have. Without some kind of online protection that would be offered with your credit card, you run the risk of losing every dollar that was stolen from you with the skimming device. Skimming devices have a high rate of accurately taking information from debit cards because there is little security tied to the card. Any suspicious activity found may not be noticed until several hours later. A good rule of thumb is if the ATM or gas station doesn’t “look” safe or provides a bad vibe, you probably don’t want to use them anyway. Some good advice for safe ATM use is if they have a bank name attached to it or if they are in a clean, well lit and populated gas station. As far as gas stations are concerned, a populated chain will often yield good results. With the amount of time you will be driving and buying presents this holiday season, it is necessary to be aware of your surroundings and protect your debit card.
- Hotels – Hotels have a tendency to “nickel and dime” you, sometimes leaving you in a lurch. Oftentimes, banks examine the charges and the amounts of the charges. That could leave them to freeze your debit card for an uncertain amount of time. Being on vacation or being out of town for the holidays is not a convenient time for your debit card to be frozen.
Debit cards are great to have. However, you have to safeguard your information wherever you are. The holiday season is a great time for hackers and spammers to run their schemes. Oftentimes, we are not cognizant of where we use our debit cards because the busyness of the season can sometimes cloud our thinking. Taking a few seconds to think about where you are using your debit card can save you plenty of time and money.