Although credit card fraud garners all the attention for cyber threats and data breaches, the actual weak link lies in your wallet, your debit card. Debit cards are tied directly to your bank account and hence if there is any kind of fraud, your money will vanish immediately and you may have to wait for too long to recuperate the money. This may mean missed payments, hours lost on the phone and fees. Moreover, if your PIN is stolen, be ready to expect more hassle.
When you see credit card fraud, you alert the lenders, you don’t pay the bill and hence there is no cash out of your pocket. This is why experts recommend you to make non-cash purchases with a credit card. Nevertheless, if you don’t prefer credit cards for various other reasons and prefer using debit cards, ensure following the below mentioned safeguards to avoid a drainage of your account.
#1: Never tie your emergency savings with your checking account
You might feel tempted to link your savings account which holds the emergency savings to your checking account so as to avoid overdrafts. But this is always considered as a big ‘No’ from experts as a single incident of identity theft or fraud could simply wipe off your entire savings. Therefore it is better to keep your emergency fund in a different online account. Instead you may consider putting a CD at your bank as they tend to work differently.
#2: Make sure you change your PIN quite often
The perfect nightmare scenario would be when an identity thief gets hold of both your debit card and your PIN. If you want to avert such a dangerous situation, make it a habit to change the PIN every month. Majority of the banks allow you to do so through the ATM and you may even do it over phone.
#3: Set up text and mail alerts
Irrespective of how careful you remain, you may still be subject to identity theft. You therefore need to stay proactive by setting text and mail alerts so that you’re immediately notified once things go wrong. Get alerts for every single transaction. This might seem annoying but that will also mean that you’ll know immediately if anyone makes a fraudulent transaction. You can catch the thief soon if you have the perfect alert strategy.
#4: Use only bank ATMs
Often it is seen that it is easier for preventive devices to go unnoticed when you transact through random ATMs in a mall or in some convenience store instead of an ATM located in the bank branch. The bank owned ATMs which are situated far away from the branches also pose a huge risk. They are not always monitored at the best level as the ATMs which are attached to the branch. Hence always transact from the bank branch ATMs.
#5: Utilize pre-paid card for online payments
One of the riskiest things you can do is use your debit card online. If you strongly stay away from credit cards, you may get a reloadable pre-paid card and use it for online shopping. You will keep away thieves from your bank and also maintain a safe distance from the temptation of over-using credit cards.
#6: Never note down your PIN in your phone
It is enough tempting to put your account number and PIN in your smartphone when you tend to forget. But remember that the biggest reason why thieves run after phones is not because they can sell them but to grab your personal bank details which you’ve stored there. If they get to know your PIN and they successfully steal your wallet too, you can be sure that your account will be drained.
Hence, if you don’t want to lose your hard-earned dollars which you have been saving for a long time, make sure you follow the above mentioned precautionary measures. Always keep checking your text message inbox and mail for notifications and take immediate actions.
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