Debit Cards: Use Caution to Protect Your Card Number
Would You Give a Thief Access to Your Checking Account?
If you're not careful about where you swipe your debit card, you just may be giving a fraudster direct access to your checking account. To avoid theft of your debit card number, be careful when swiping your debit card for some transactions. Bankrate on its website recommends using extra caution at these locations:
- Outdoor ATMs. Thieves often have an easier time affixing skimming devices, which steal your card's information, to isolated, easily accessible outdoor machines. Skimming devices are usually hidden over an ATM's card slot, and can be difficult to spot. If possible, use an ATM inside a financial institution or retail store. If you must use an outdoor ATM, aim for one in a busy, well-lit area, and check the card reader for any components that don't look quite right. For more, read "Use Caution When Using ATMs" and "Keep Your ATM-Debit Card Safe".
- Gas station pumps. Like outdoor ATMs, gas station card readers also provide ideal opportunities for skimming. Pumps that aren't monitored closely make it easy for thieves to attach skimming devices or small cameras to a card reader without detection Before you swipe, examine card readers for anything that looks suspicious.
- On the Web. Making online purchases with a debit card is risky--your information can be compromised at multiple points in a transaction. Data breaches, unsecured wireless Internet connections, or malicious software on your own computer all could put your data at risk. Opt for your credit card or a prepaid card when shopping online--and even then, only buy items from businesses you trust. For tips, read "Shopping Securely Online".
- Restaurants. Handing your debit card over to a restaurant server at the end of a meal also can be risky. A server who disappears to run your card could be privately nabbing your card information as well. You simply don't know--so it's better to turn to your credit card or cash in this instance.
Watch for ATM Skimming Devices
ATM users beware: Look for irregular devices on ATMs you use. Crooks may attach an overlay swipe device, which gleans your name, account number, expiration date, and security features off the magnetic stripe on the back of your card. Review statements on a regular basis--more often online--and report transactions you didn't make right away. Following are several precautions you can take to increase your personal safety when using ATMs.
Walk-up ATM User Precautions
- Prepare your transaction before you approach the ATM to minimize the time spent at the machine. For example, have your card ready.
- Do not display cash; instead, pocket it immediately when you complete the transaction, and take your card and receipt. Verify the cash when you can safely do so.
- Do not update your check register while at the ATM. Make the entry to your records when you can safely do so.
- Save your receipt and match it to your statement.
- Do not accept assistance from strangers when using an ATM.
- Always be aware of your surroundings before, during and after completing the transaction. Be alert for suspicious activity near the ATM, particularly at night. Consider taking another person with you to the ATM late at night.
- If the ATM is obstructed from view or has poor lighting, go to another ATM.
- Does the ATM appear to have been tampered with? Be alert for any attachment to the card slot, keypad, brochure box, etc.
- Does anything or anyone look suspicious? If so, cancel your transaction and go to another ATM.
- Protect the information on your card and your Personal Identification Number (PIN) by covering the keypad and standing close to the ATM if someone is waiting to use the machine.
- Do not give your card or PIN to anyone, and do not lend your ATM card to anyone, no matter how lucrative the offer might seem.
- Immediately report a lost or stolen card to your credit union.
Drive-up ATM User Precautions
- Doors should be locked on your vehicle, windows rolled up, and your automobile engine running while using a drive-up ATM.
- Leave enough room between your car and the car in front of you to exit, should the need arise.
- If anything appears suspicious, cancel your transaction and immediately drive away.
- If you are suspicious of being followed when leaving the ATM, drive to the nearest crowded, well-lit location and call police.
- Do not use a drive-up ATM if it is hidden from view or not well lit.
Your Safety is at the Top of Our Wish List
Crowded malls, packed parking lots, and even internet shopping sites are all opportunities for criminals to take advantage of holiday excitement to steal your belongings, your money, or your identity. We hope the following shopping safety tips help to keep your holiday season happy!
Confirm the seller’s contact information in case you have questions or problems in the future.
Always use a credit card online. Never use your debit card or pay by check online; this opens your checking account up to fraud. Make sure the transaction is secure. (Look for the closed padlock icon in your browser window frame and the "https" in the URL when you go to the checkout page.) Confirm the bottom line price, shipping schedule, and return policy. Print all transaction records and any other useful information pertaining to your purchase. Finally, beware of emails offering outrageous deals; if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Consumers are changing their spending habits, including using their ATM and Debit cards more than other forms of payment
To protect your ATM - Debit card and your accounts, keeping your personal identification number (PIN) is top priority. Never write your PIN on your card or keep it stored with your card. Here are some suggestions:
- Never provide a debit or credit card number or any personal information through an unsolicited e-mail or request;
- Look for secure transaction symbols (such as "https" in the address line or the closed lock symbol at the top of the browser window) when shopping online to ensure the account information is protected;
- Call your financial institution right away if a card is lost or stolen;
- Review all account statements promptly and report any errors;
- Do not expose a card's magnetic stripe to magnetic objects, because they can damage cards;
- Block the view of others when using an ATM or PIN debit terminal;
- Observe surroundings before using an outdoor ATM or debit terminal;
- Do not use ATMs that appear to be tampered with, and report tampering to the ATM owner immediately.