What is your most favorite choice to pay bills at restaurants, coffee shop, gas station, or supermarket? Your probable answer would be debit card. But are you 100% confident that your personal information is safe while swiping debit card at the ATM or coffeehouse? John Breyault, director of the Fraud Center for the National Consumers League said, "There's a difference in how the transactions are processed and the protections offered to consumers when they use them". People should use cash instead of the plastic while paying bills. This is the most convenient way to avoid hassles and risks as well. So, think twice before paying your next bill with a debit card. Here are some risk zones where you should never use your debit card.
1. Online shopping
Try to use credit card instead of debit card while purchasing online. But, remember your first preference should be "cash on delivery option" if available. The web is a big place where you need to be very careful while purchasing or just adding features in your smartphone. You can find secure transaction symbol such as "lock" in your browser and always log out after completing online shopping and make sure the web address is starts with "https". Incase you can't log off then close the browser to keep your personal information safe.
2. At gas stations
Using debit card at a gas station can be dangerous as there is a technology that helps thieves to hack the information. A skimming device can be attached and that might be risky for you. Try to pay the bill using your cash instead of swiping your debit card. Visit a properly secured gas station and check thoroughly the card reader if there is anything attached to it.
3. At the restaurants
Chris McGoey, a security consultant based in Los Angeles said, "The guy comes to your table, takes your card and disappears for a while, so he or she has privacy," giving the person the opportunity to copy your card information". On the other hand, using debit cards can be risky as the cashier can keep the customer's payment information on the file. This will help him/her to make future orders more convenient.
4. Advanced booking for travel
If you're sure about the travel companies' confidentiality, then use your credit card while paying for a travel package. You'll get a refund automatically incase you cancel the package you paid for.
5. Outdoor ATMs
Beware of skimming outdoor ATMs. This is the most dangerous place to become an identity theft victim while checking your balance or withdrawing money for your instant need. Thieves can easily get cards information at the ATMs. Julie Conroy, research director at Aite Group LLC, a Boston-based financial services research firm, said, "the card terminals that card users must swipe to get into ATM vestibules are being used as a skimming site by criminals. You can spot ATM skimmers by checking for ATM components that look beaten up or askew". Take an inventory look at the machine or the card reader when you are using the ATM.
6. Rental deposits
Don't use a debit card to rent cars, home improvement equipment as the money goes out of your account to the company as a security deposit. But if you pay the bill with a credit card, then your money is just "frozen" not charged.
Avoid dealing with your debit or credit card when you're staying at a hotel. Most of the times, wi-fi enabled hotels are not safe as passwords are not protected there. On the other hand, fraudsters can set up a fake wi-fi and easily steal your card details at the time of your login. Try to keep your valuable things in a secret place while staying at a hotel as housekeeping staffs can come across your wallet and steal your information.
5 Tips to protect your debit cards:
- Block the view option at the time of entering the pin at ATMs or debit terminals.
- Keep the receipt of every transaction before leaving the terminal and be sure your transaction is complete.
- Do not forget to enter the pin on your own at the time of transaction.
- Avoid ATMs or debit terminal located in a remote location.
- If you notice anything fishy at the terminal, it is better to leave the place immediately.
- If you get a huge amount of money and feel someone is following you, then try to go to a crowded place and call the police.
Carrying debit card is very much handy and hassle-free than carrying a bundle of cash. But if you value your hard earned money, then you shouldn't use debit card all the time to avoid scams.