Have you seen the video of the Starbucks employee getting busted for stealing a patron’s credit card information and making purchases with the stolen card information? This employee did get fired, but much of this theft goes un-noticed. Experienced shoppers may like to use a debit card because you are limited to spending only the money you have in your account at the time. In 2014, 43% of all purchases were done on debit, but there are hidden dangers to using an ATM card. As these cards are linked directly to your checking and/or savings accounts, these accounts can be completely wiped out if a bad guy gets your PIN number. Once money is stolen from your ATM you will have to fight to get it back; sometimes this can take a while. If your credit card number is stolen, you simply call your credit card company and they immediately issue you a credit for the disputed amount, along with a new credit card. The credit card company then goes after the fraud, but your money is restored either way. Credit cards allow you 60 days to report fraudulent activity, whereas a debit card typically gives you only 2 days. Here are some places you may need to use your credit card only:
PAYING AT A RESTAURANT: Restaurants have high employee turnover which can put you at risk for debit/credit card theft. Protect yourself by using your credit card which allows you 60 days to file a dispute for fraud; your debit card only gives you 2 days.
PAYING AT THE PUMP: Skimmers can be attached to gas station pumps that will record your ATM card number and small video recorders will also record your PIN number giving a thief full access to your accounts. Gas stations can also put a hold on money in your account for up to 4 days after using your ATM card, which could cause checks to bounce.
MAKING PURCHASES ONLINE: When you use a Credit card you have up to 60 days to dispute any online charges if your merchandise does not arrive, an ATM card will only allow you 2 days to file a claim.
THE SUPERMARKET: A few years back, criminals dressed as tech maintenance installed skimmers on many grocery credit/debit card readers and were able to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting Debit card payers, Credit card users were able to get immediate refunds of the amount stolen.
BOOKING TRAVEL: If you are booking trouble with a company that ends up going out of business your ATM payment would cause you to lose the entire amount. Had you booked this with a credit card, if you file your dispute within 60 days, you could get an immediate credit for the amount lost.
PURCHASING FURNITURE: Furniture companies routinely have going out of business sales, because they often go out of business. Protect yourself here by purchasing with a credit card as you would have 60 days to file a dispute on the furniture company. Using your ATM only gives you 2 days to file a dispute, and in 2 days your furniture may not even be delivered yet.
If you still prefer using a Debit/ATM card, may we suggest that you only link your Debit card to a separate account with limited funds specifically set aside for ATM transactions? This way you can limit your exposure to theft to the amount left in that account instead of all of your bank accounts.