Tips to Keep Your Debit Card Safe

Debit Card Safety at ATM

Michelle N. Paulnock |
Posted on Mar 05, 2019

Using a debit card to get cash or pay for purchases is a convenience that many of us value. Unfortunately, criminals value it too, and they do what they can to steal people's card information. You can prevent debit card fraud by being vigilant when you use your card. Below are some tips to keep you, your debit card, and your hard-earned money safe. 

Keep your PIN to yourself.  Memorize it, and never write it down or share it with anyone else. Further, do not give your PIN to anyone over the phone.  Even if the person claims to be the police or from your bank, don't provide it. No one needs to know your PIN except for you. When establishing your PIN, do not use known numbers like a birthdate, the last four digits of your Social Security number, or an anniversary date.  Choose random numbers and change your PIN frequently.  

When you use an ATM, always be aware of your surroundings. Watch for suspicious people or activity. Also, be aware of any devices on the ATM which may look suspicious, or if it looks like the ATM has been tampered with. If something doesn't look or feel right, it's probably not. Leave and find another ATM to use.

When you use your card at a gas pump, always check the terminal. If it is difficult to insert your card, do not use the terminal. Move to a different gas pump and payment terminal.  

Always take your receipts with you, or better yet, have the merchant email you the receipt. Save all of your receipts, and compare them to your account statement each month. If you find a discrepancy, contact your bank immediately.  

If you shop online, be careful and cautious. Look for an indication that the site is secure, like "https" in the web address or a closed padlock in the address line or bottom frame of your browser. Conduct transactions on "wired" Internet connections only.  Wireless connections, like public Wi-Fi, are not as secure.  Even better, consider using a credit card for Internet purchases. That way, if your card information is stolen, the thief does not have access to your checking account.

Stay on top of your account regularly using online banking.  You can view transactions and watch for unauthorized activity between account statements. Consider setting up alerts to be notified of various types of transactions.

If your debit card becomes lost or stolen, report it immediately.  Call your bank right away to reduce the chance that your card will be used fraudulently.  Plus, by notifying your bank immediately, you limit your potential liability for unauthorized transactions.  

EMV chip technology is now the global standard for credit card and debit card payments. Named after its original developers (Europay, MasterCard(r) and Visa(r)), this technology features an embedded microprocessor chip that stores and protects cardholder data. This technology has proven successful in reducing fraud in over 130 countries around the world. 

Additionally, some banks are offering a mobile card management app that allows you to lock and unlock your debit card at any time, get real-time notifications with debit card use, and set spending limits or merchant restrictions.

Although debit card fraud can happen anywhere and at any time, you can help prevent it by being vigilant and careful with your card. Simply keep these tips in mind for safe and convenient use of your debit card for all your purchases and ATM transactions.  

Michelle N. Paulnock
Senior Vice President/Information Systems Manager