How to Protect Yourself From Debit Card Fraud

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated April 16, 2018

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Personal Finance
April 16, 2018

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Debit card fraud is at a 20-year high right now, and it mostly occurs at bank ATMs and ATMs located away from bank premises. They are very vulnerable machines because consumers only need the card and a pin code in order to take out cash — they don’t have chip-and-pin protection. All of the information is stored on the magnetic stripe, which is an older technology. Fraudsters can use a technique called skimming in order to attach a device into the ATM and take data from every card that is used. They can also add cameras that can record you as you are typing in your pin code! Here are some tips to help you avoid debit card fraud at ATMs.

Although fraud can still occur at banks, it is much less likely to happen when you’re using a bank ATM. They often have higher security, bright lights and cameras that will deter fraudsters from approaching them to attach devices that can steal your information. Make sure to only use bank ATMs if possible and to do so during business hours.

Another trick that can be really helpful in avoiding fraud and identity theft is to set up alerts from your bank. You can choose to be alerted every time cash is withdrawn from your account or other types of activity occurs, like someone logging into your account or requesting another card, etc. You can even set up an alert for an amount greater than $0.01 so that you get a text message sent to your phone the moment any money is deducted from your account.

If possible, keep the bulk of your money in a savings account rather than your checking account. This is a smart move because it’s much more difficult to defraud a savings account by nature. Checking accounts can have ATM cards duplicated, checks written, purchases made with a card and a signature, etc. Each one of those transactions is a chance for someone to collect your information and potentially subject you to fraud! You can also set up alerts on your savings account so you are aware of any transactions taking place on it as well.

Using a debit card can be risky but not if you set up the right precautions. Follow these tips to make sure that your account is never subject to fraud! And if you’re ready to try a credit card, consider a prepaid credit card. They offer many conveniences, although they won’t help you build credit. Find out how prepaid credit cards work here.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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