Would You Give a Thief Access to Your Checking Account?
If you're not careful about where you swipe your debit card, you just may be giving a fraudster direct access to your checking account. To avoid theft of your debit card number, be careful when swiping your debit card for some transactions. Bankrate
on its website recommends using extra caution at these locations:
- Outdoor ATMs. Thieves often have an easier time affixing skimming devices, which steal your card's information, to isolated, easily accessible outdoor machines. Skimming devices are usually hidden over an ATM's card slot, and can be difficult to spot. If possible, use an ATM inside a financial institution or retail store. If you must use an outdoor ATM, aim for one in a busy, well-lit area, and check the card reader for any components that don't look quite right. For more, read "Use Caution When Using ATMs" and "Keep Your ATM-Debit Card Safe".
- Gas station pumps. Like outdoor ATMs, gas station card readers also provide ideal opportunities for skimming. Pumps that aren't monitored closely make it easy for thieves to attach skimming devices or small cameras to a card reader without detection. Before you swipe, examine card readers for anything that looks suspicious.
- On the Web. Making online purchases with a debit card is risky -- your information can be compromised at multiple points in a transaction. Data breaches, unsecured wireless Internet connections, or malicious software on your own computer all could put your data at risk. Opt for your credit card or a prepaid card when shopping online -- and even then, only buy items from businesses you trust. For tips, read "Shopping Securely Online".
- Restaurants. Handing your debit card over to a restaurant server at the end of a meal also can be risky. A server who disappears to run your card could be privately nabbing your card information as well. You simply don't know -- so it's better to turn to your credit card or cash in this instance.
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