The headlines have been pretty scary. Major retailers and restaurant chains have been hacked and their customer data put at risk. International gangs have targeted banks and their customers. Consumers have been targeted with phishing scams and fake emails. It is enough to make you cut up your debit card and go back to cash.
The good news is you can still use your debit card safely – if you know how to keep it safe. These safety tips can keep your debit card — and your bank account – safe online and off.
Look at the swipe device carefully before using your debit card. Thieves can install skimmers to steal data and clone debit cards. If something does not look right, notify store management right away and use cash instead.
Use your other hand to shield your PIN entry. This protects you from shoulder surfers – and the pinhole cameras thieves sometimes use to steal data.
Ask your bank about their liability protections. Some banks extend the same zero-liability protections to both credit cards and debit cards, while others only provide that protection to credit card customers.
Log on to your checking account several times a week and scan for unusual charges. If your debit card has been compromised, you may see strange charges or unauthorized withdrawals in your bank account.
Notify your bank immediately if you suspect a problem with your debit card or bank account. Notifying the bank promptly is the best way to protect your rights.
Watch where you shop with your debit card. When shopping online, always make sure the site is encrypted by looking for the https: designation in the address bar. Avoid sites you have never heard of before, and if a site seems suspect just abandon your cart and go elsewhere.
Nothing can provide total protection for your debit card. You do not have much control over the security of online systems or the ability of hackers to breach them. You can, however, take steps to protect yourself when you shop. The above tips can help keep you safe, or at least give you an early warning if fraud is suspected.