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Learn How to Protect Your Money and Prevent Debit Card Fraud

There are many benefits of using debit, like better budgeting and avoiding debt, but there’s also the risk of debit card fraud. We’ve provided eight precautions you can take to help safeguard yourself from scammers. Review these tips to learn how to protect your money and identity!

Debit card fraud can put you into panic mode, costing you time and money. First, a stolen card is a nuisance! You have to get a new card, update any automatic billing accounts and handle other inconveniences with your financial institution. Even worse, a thief could wipe out your checking account. No matter how severe the monetary and emotional consequences are, you’re left cleaning up the mess.

If you’re a debit user, your best line of defense is to learn how to protect your money and put security practices into action. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Stay Protected from Debit Card Fraud: 8 Precautions to Take!

  1. Pay using your smartphone and digital wallet.
  2. Keep around two months of living expenses in your checking account.
  3. Take steps to help protect your info from online hackers.
  4. Designate a specific debit card for online auto bill pay.
  5. Don’t let your debit card out of your sight.
  6. Become a skimmer investigator.
  7. Never reveal your card number or personal info over the phone.
  8. Learn about your financial institution’s fraud protection services.

1. Link Your Debit Card to Your Digital Wallet

Digital wallets are safe payment methods because of multiple layers of protection, including data encryption and tokenization technology. With tokenization, “tokens” replace your account number, which prevents sensitive payment information from being exposed. Also, since you access your mobile payment app on your smartphone, passcodes or biometric security features further enhance the security of your card information.

2. Limit the Amount of Money in Your Checking Account

A thief who gets ahold of your debit card can head straight to the ATM or go on a shopping spree, draining your account. To help prevent this loss, keep no more than two months of living expenses in your checking account, experts recommend. Regular debit users should monitor their checking accounts regularly as well. It’s crucial to contact your credit union as soon as you detect any unauthorized activity to prevent more fraudulent transactions. Your financial institution will start an investigation to refund the withdrawn funds to your account.

3. Shop with Trusted Retailers

Shopping on trusted sites and apps can help minimize the risk of identity theft. In 2019, data breaches rose by 17% and 14.4 million consumers became victims of identity fraud, according to Identity Force.1 To help protect yourself from hackers and data breaches, don’t store your card information on the site and use a complex passphrase for your password. Also, don’t click on any links in emails sent informing you about a data breach or offering free credit monitoring. Rather, visit the company website or call customer service to learn about the breach and what to do.

4. Designate a Specific Debit Card for AutoPay

You may want to consider getting a second debit card to use only for automatically paying your bills online. This way, you can skip the hassle of updating your accounts if your everyday debit card or card info gets stolen. If you’re using one card and the worst happens, you’re at risk for missing bill payments and facing late fees.

5. Keep an Eye on Your Debit Card

Skimming is a scam in which a device is attached to a point-of-sale system. Once a card is swiped, the skimmer will read the magnetic strip and record the card number. To prevent your card from getting skimmed, do not let the card out of your sight during transactions at places like a restaurant, store, food truck or bar. A server, for instance, could collect your card information surreptitiously, so you’ll always want to have eyes on your card.

6. Look for Skimmers on ATMs and Gas Pumps

ATMs and gas pumps are also notoriously known for skimming scams. Before you insert your debit card, look for anything suspicious on the ATM or pump terminal like an obtrusive attachment over the card reader or bulky keypad. A loose card slot or keypad or broken security seal are also giveaways of a compromised machine. Overall, it’s best practice to give the ATM or gas pump an overall inspection to see if any parts look odd or tampered with.

7. Don’t Give Out Your Card Information

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book — con artists call you pretending to be a representative from your financial institution or card company. The scammer will tell you that your debit card has been compromised or deactivated and they need to verify your card’s number (and perhaps other sensitive information). Remember, your financial institution will never call you asking for personal or financial information. Hang up and call your credit union’s customer service number or the number on the back of your debit card to inquire about the call.

8. Learn About Your Credit Union’s Fraud Protection Features

Many financial institutions, like Desert Financial, monitor activity to identify any suspicious activity and will send alerts to notify you of fraud. If Desert Financial suspects a fraudulent transaction, we will send a text message asking you to reply with a YES or NO one-time response. If you respond that you have encountered a fraudulent transaction, then we will take action. Members may also receive an email or phone call, but we will never ask for personal or account information.

Anyone can become a victim of debit or credit card fraud. As long as you’re aware of the potential threat and follow these tips, you can minimize your risk of money and identity theft. Visit DesertFinancial.com/Contact if you’re a Desert Financial member and need to report any suspicious fraudulent activity.

Debit Card Safety & Security

At Desert Financial, your Visa® Debit Card is fraud-protected and we act quickly to resolve qualified fraud claims. To protect your debit card, review your checking account regularly, report fraudulent charges or lost/stolen cards immediately, keep your debit card in your possession at all times, protect your PIN and only use your debit card with trusted vendors. For more information about fraud, scam and identity theft protection, visit DesertFinancial.com/Security.

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The material presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as financial, investment or legal advice.