3 Steps To Protect Your Debit Card Account

Tuesday, November 12, 2013, AM | 1 Comment

Using a debit card at your local and not so local gas stations or your local privately-owned convenience store invites a man-made phenomenon [man is so smart?] commonly known as ‘skimming’. The ‘skimmers’ set up equipment that captures magnetic stripe and keypad information when you input your PIN at ATM machines, gas pumps, restaurants, or retailers.

I guess it skims the milk out of your debit account. No matter how abreast you are about technology, the ‘skimmers’ are always one step ahead of you. It is almost impossible to get ahead of the scammers and the schmucks. You can think of them as the ‘leaders’ and we, the people, the ‘followers’.

What happens when you use a debit card

Experts tell us first understand that debit cards are processed differently than credit cards. Both use separate data networks. When you use a debit card, the money is immediately withdrawn from your checking account. There is no grace period as in credit card, nonothing. It sure gives the convenience of not getting under the burden of debt – unless you overdraft – your debit card has downside as well, including a growing appeal to thieves.

3 steps you can take to protect your debit-card account

The chances of skimming increase the further you move away from a bank ATM, especially your own bank that provided you with the debit card. So try to not move away from your bank ATM machine. That one step you take is probably the most important one.

Protect Your Debit Card Account

Experts suggest the following steps to minimize the damage.

  1. Don’t type in your PIN at places like gas pumps

    You don’t know if they have a ‘skimming machine’ installed or not at the premises. Always assume that they do. If you must use a debit card at the gas pump, for example, choose the screen prompt that identifies it as a credit card so that you do not have to type in your PIN. The purchase amount will still be deducted from your bank account, but it will be processed through a credit-card network, which will give you greater protection from liability if fraud does occur.

  2. Try using ATMs located physically at Banks

    To reduce your risk at ATMs, use machines at banks rather than in convenience stores, airports, or any isolated locations. However, bank ATMs are not immune either from skimming.

  3. Check your bank account regularly

    Almost every bank gives you access to online account. Check your account periodically and go through each entry, your credit and debit, and see if there is any discrepancy in your account. Make it a habit.

In a Nutshell
Experts say “Visa and MasterCard have zero liability policies that go beyond federal law by exempting debit cardholders from liability in most circumstances when a bank investigation confirms that a transaction is fraudulent. But dealing with debit-card fraud can have a greater impact on your finances than credit-card fraud.”

Just be on extra guard. 100% immunity from anything is almost impossible. So try to minimize the damage to your finances.

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  1. One Response to “3 Steps To Protect Your Debit Card Account”

  2. By Elissa @ 20s Finances on Nov 12, 2013, 3:59 pm | Reply

    Thanks for the advice! I often don’t think of these things when I need to withdraw from my checking account. Glad my bank is nearby.

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