Debit Card Warning: Four Places to Avoid

Ruth to the Rescue Debit Card Protection


Swipe your card, punch in your PIN, and go! Using a debit card is so easy, but do you ever think about how some purchases might be more dangerous to your personal information than others? With hackers and skimmers looking to strike, it's critical to understand the difference between debit and credit cards.

"A credit card, when you're spending, you're spending the lender's money. But, a debit card when you're spending, you're spending your own money. It's tied directly to your bank account," said Jeanine Skowronski, a credit card analyst for Bankrate.com.

That access to your money is one of the key reasons you should be keeping your debit card even safer than your credit cards. When a fraudster uses your credit card, he isn't really spending your money.

However, if he gets his hand on your debit card, that money comes directly from your account. You will likely get that money back, but the process could be more difficult. If you bounce checks because of the missing money, you could face additional fees that would also have to be reversed. In the end, you should recapture your money in the end, but in the meantime, it's your money that's missing.

Plus, Skowronski says the you liability limit is smaller with a credit card ($50), while it can be up to $500 for a debit card depending on how quickly you report the fraud.

Four Places To Avoid Using Debit Card

So, when it comes to protecting your debit card information, Bankrate.com says there are a few places that can put that account information at a greater risk.

The first two are gas pump charge pad and stand-alone ATMs. Basically, its experts tell you to be very wary of devices that are pretty much unattended and not heavily policed.

"Basically, if you can get to it, the hackers or skimmers can get to it too. You might want to go to an ATM that's inside a store, since people are policing it. It's a little more secure," Jeanine Skowronski, a credit card analyst for Bankrate.com.

Skimmers attach devices to ATM's to steal your card information, and now they're trying to trick you before you even reach the ATM. "When you go up to the door to swipe into that little cubicle or kiosk, there could be a skimmer on the mechanism you're using to swipe in there," explained Skowronski.

Bankrate.com also says to avoid using your debit card while online shopping and at places like restaurants where your card is temporarily out of sight.

"You're giving that card to somebody else and they're doing who knows what with it." says Skowronski.

Think About Having A "Dirty Card"

When it comes to online shopping, restaurants, and gas stations, you might want to have a so-called "dirty" credit card that you use for all those purchases.That way you get the credit card protections you need, and you can just pay off the balance every month. In addition, if you sign up for a credit card that gives you rewards or bonus points, you can accrue those points, while keeping your money protected.

If you still worried about overspending and facing a big bill at the end of the month, Skowronski says try this. "Use the credit card, but go in every day - pay off those charges with your debit card on a linked account." Paying as you go might help you stay on budget, while still protecting your debit card information
as well.