Ways to Protect Yourself from Debit Card Fraud
As debit card fraud is becoming more and more common (and easy for criminals to commit), it’s important to understand how you can protect yourself.
Like you may be thinking, I too once said “It will never happen to me”, only to later find myself robbed of nearly $500 in one week. Though I am not aware of how my debit card information was obtained (I still had my physical card), I am aware that I did not do enough to prevent it! Here are some ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of debit card fraud!
Check Your Bank Statements
While this may seem obvious, it is one of the most important ways to protect yourself from debit card fraud and many of us (including myself) don’t do it enough – or at all. Most banks now offer free apps that make checking your bank statements extremely convenient. Consider checking your bank statement once a day in order to make sure no unfamiliar activity has been recorded. Checking your statement daily can be done in minutes and is an easy way to monitor recent transactions and catch signs of fraud before more damage is done.
Set Up Bank Alerts
Setting up bank alerts is another easy way to protect yourself against debit card fraud. Many banks offer account alerts, meaning you are notified via text or email if there is a recent transaction that seems suspicious. These automatic alerts are a quick way of knowing if your card information may have been compromised. Some banks will even allow you to set a specific dollar amount or a select geographical range, meaning any transaction over this dollar amount or outside of this range will not be accepted. However, if you choose this option, make sure to notify your bank if you are planning a vacation so you’re still able to use your card.
Avoid Questionable ATM’s
By using certain ATMs, you may increase the risk of thieves copying the magnetic strip on your debit card. Fraudsters use an act called “skimming” in which a device fits in the ATM reader slot and copies your card information. By copying this magnetic strip, thieves can later transport the strip onto a blank card and use it exactly like your debit card. Avoid ATMs at restaurants or retail shops and consider using a bank ATM, as these are not as vulnerable and have greater protection against debit card fraud.
Pay with Cash
The more you swipe your debit card, the more risk you bring upon yourself to encounter fraud. Consider taking out cash from a safe ATM and use cash whenever possible. Paying for items with cash can limit the amount of times you need to use your debit card. If you do not feel comfortable carrying a fair amount of cash on you, consider carrying enough cash to at least pay for small items such as your daily latte. An added bonus – when you pay with cash you are more conscious of the amount you spend which can save you money in the long run!
Consider going paperless to protect yourself against debit card fraud. While fraudsters have developed easier and better ways to hack accounts, some have not moved away from looking through your mail or garbage for account information. By using an app or online banking to check your statements, your information no longer needs to leave a paper trail. If you prefer your statement on paper, consider shredding all receipts and statements that you no longer need.
Switch to Chip Cards
As most credit cards have already made the switch to chip cards, debit cards are following suit. Unlike the magnetic strip on your card, the chip on your card features a unique authentication code each time the chip is inserted. The code is never the same, making it difficult for fraudsters to steal your information. Though your debit card may not have the chip on it now, consider asking your bank if and when chip cards will be made available.
While these tips can certainly protect oneself against debit card fraud, it’s important not to forget the basics such as keeping your debit card in sight and covering the keypad whenever you type your pin. Debit card fraud can happen to anyone, so taking necessary precautions can help to protect you and keep you in control of your finances. If you do suspect suspicious any activity, be sure to notify your bank immediately.
Have you been a victim of debit card fraud? What steps have you taken to protect yourself in the future? Feel free to share your comments!