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American consumers are using debit cards more than ever before. For example, the total number of debit card transactions in 2003 was 15.6 billion. By 2012, that number had more than tripled to 47 billion.
The increase in debit card usage can be attributed to three principal factors:
Most users of debit cards are unaware of both how they work and the inherent risks they pose for fraud and identity theft. Regarding how they work, unlike fraudulent charges to a credit card, those from a debit card draw real money from your checking account. In addition, whereas charges to your credit card can typically be quickly resolved pending an investigation by your bank, debit card users can be out $500 or more if they don’t notice the fraud within two days.
Equally important, debit card theft has become increasingly pervasive, with thieves concocting ever more sophisticated means to obtain personal information. That information can be used to steal money from users’ bank accounts and, even worse, to steal the user’s identity.
In general, there are three ways in which debit card thieves obtain personal identification numbers (PINs) and other debit card information to steal money from debit card users. Knowing how thieves operate can help owners of debit cards protect themselves:
If you want more ways to avoid identity theft, here are some good tips to follow.
Debit cards can be a smart way to ensure that you don’t live beyond your means. But they can also be dangerous in a world in which increasingly sophisticated debit card thieves are constantly finding new ways to access card information and steal money from users’ bank accounts, and even their identities. Debit card users need to protect themselves by understanding how debit cards work and how thieves obtain their personal information.