6 Ways to Avoid Debit Card Fraud

You’ve heard of debit card fraud, but are you familiar with how it works and how to protect yourself from experiencing this financial headache? Debit card fraud represents a huge challenge to consumers because it means your money literally goes missing from your bank account

While banks do work to protect their customers when it comes to this kind of theft, protecting your own account is of the utmost importance. 

Photo by Christian Erfurt

Photo by Christian Erfurt

What is debit card fraud?

Debit card fraud occurs in two ways — when your card is “skimmed” so that the information from the magnetic stripe on your card can be used to create a duplicate of your card or when your card is lost and your PIN is discovered. 

Debit card fraud is particularly troubling for consumers because they lose actual funds from their bank account, compared to credit card fraud where they might temporarily have less space available on their card. Losing real money from your account could mean that you are short on cash to pay for your daily expenses while your debit card fraud case is being reviewed. This could result in you incurring overdraft fees or needing to pay for more items with a credit card. 

Another way debit card fraud is different from credit card fraud is when it comes to getting reimbursed. Some card companies only give debit card users a two or five day grace period to report the activity, while credit card companies are generally willing to refund the money whenever the fraud is discovered.

How to prevent debit card fraud

There are some steps you can take to help protect yourself against becoming a victim of debit card fraud. Here’s what you need to know. 

1. Monitor your bank account activity

You should regularly review all the transactions in your bank account to make sure there aren’t any discrepancies. If you see a transaction you don’t recognize, call your bank immediately. You might be able to stop additional fraudulent charges by catching the unauthorized activity quickly. 

2. Shred sensitive documents 

Make sure you properly dispose of anything that has your debit card information on it. This includes receipts or bank account statements and bills. Cutting the documents up isn’t enough as thieves can go through your trash and piece them back together. Instead, make sure documents are shredded or cut up and then disposed of in two different trash bins. 

3. Protect your belongings

Are you one of those people who are constantly forgetting their purse or wallet somewhere? You could be setting yourself up for fraud if your cards fall into the wrong hands. Make sure you always know where your personal belongings are and if you do happen to lose your cards, call your bank immediately to have them canceled. 

4. Keep your PIN safe

It’s easy to get lazy about covering your PIN while you type it, but watching you type your PIN is one of the easiest ways thieves can access it. Make sure you’re covering up the keypad when you type in public. Also, don’t leave your PIN written down on your phone or on your computer. It’s not hard for thieves to access those devices.

5. Be aware when online shopping

As online shopping grows in popularity it’s important to emphasize best practices when it comes to inputting your information online. Never send your debit card information over email. 

Also, make sure any website you’re purchasing on has “https” in the address bar. This indicates it’s a secure site. You should also be wary of inputting personal information on public WiFi such as at a cafe, coworking location or airport.

Related: 6 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online

6. Don’t fall for phishing

Some phishing scams can seem legitimate enough that they’re hard to immediately pick out when you’re scanning your email quickly or are stressed and in a rush. Providing any sensitive information in a phishing scam is just handing the keys to your account over to thieves. 

Legitimate banks or vendors will not ask you for personal information over email. They also won’t threaten to cancel your account if you don’t comply, which a lot of phishing scams will do. Scammers might try to direct you to a URL that looks similar enough to your bank account that you might mistake it for the real thing at first glance, which is why you should always look at each link closely. 


The Financial Gym Team