Think Before You Swipe

By Kelli Bennett, Editorial Intern

Do you remember opening your first checking account and the sudden amount of responsibility that was bestowed upon you? Well I certainly remember that day. As my mom drilled debit card and identity protection into my head, all I could think about was the first purchase I would make with my new card. Though that was seven years ago, my mom along with other finically sound mentors of mine continue to remind me of the fiscal danger I can find if I am not careful.

Yes, I trust their wisdom but reading the BankRate.com article, “4 risky places to swipe your debit card,” made the chance of identity theft more real to me.

BankRate.com and Chris McGoey, Los Angeles based security consultant, remind debit card users to be cautious in four specific debit transaction areas:

ATMs

Skimming: capturing a bank customer’s card information by running it through a machine that reads the card’s magnetic strip. Those machines are often placed over the real card slots at ATMs and other card terminals.

Prevention: Use an ATM inside a retail outlet or other high-trafficked, well-lit place.

Gas Pump

Thieves often use small cameras to capture footage of debit card users entering their PINs so they can have free access to their money.

Prevention: Use an alternative such as cash or credit cards the next time you fill up.

Websites

“Online is the No. 1 place where consumers should not use their debit cards. It’s susceptible at so many points. The consumer could have malware on their computer, so it could be at their endpoint that the data get compromised. It could be a man-in-the-middle attack where somebody is eavesdropping on their communications via the wireless network. And then at the other end, that data goes into a database at the merchant. As we’ve seen with some of the higher-profile breach events over the last year or so, that data is going to be vulnerable if (they’re) not properly cared for.” – Julie McNelley, senior analyst for Aite Group LLC

Prevention: Use a credit card if possible and research the company checking their status of the Better Business Bureau and other helpful sources.

Restaurants

using debit cards at a restaurant or to order delivery can be risky because cashiers tend to keep customer payment information on file.

Prevention: Use cash as much as possible when you cannot see the start and end of our sales transaction.

The one thing I want to share through this post is the importance of spending wisely, knowing your surroundings and never limiting yourself to your debit card.

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