Be careful with your debit card!
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Greensboro consumers should be aware that some locations are hot spots for debit and credit card fraud. Of the two, debit card theft and fraud is the more financially troublesome. For fraudulent charges on your credit card bill, you alert the card issuer as soon as you notice, and they decline the charges and reverse them. You usually have 30-60 days to do so, depending on applicable terms and conditions.
With a debit card, though, that’s money out of your bank account instantly. You have a very short window to report the fraudulent charge, and then it’s a waiting game to get your money back. Sometimes it can be a few days. Other times, it can be a few weeks. If that was money you needed to pay bills, you could find yourself in a cash crunch quickly. That’s why it’s critical to know the most likely places for fraud – and avoid them!
If you have a credit card and a debit card, it’s almost always safer to use a credit card then turn around and pay it off with funds from your checking account. If you pay it down before your monthly statement cuts, you shouldn’t pay any interest, and you keep your bank account protected. If you don’t have a credit card, you may want to pay cash or limit your use at these top spots for debit card fraud:
1 - Online shops
In recent years, many top retailers were hacked and account numbers compromised. Target, Home Depot, Office Depot and others were targeted putting millions of consumers at risk of fraud. When shopping online, using PayPal may be safer or buying a gift card for the online store at your local retail outlet to use are safer alternatives.
2 - Gas stations
Fraudsters are known to attach card skimmers on gas pumps. Then, when you swipe your card, they get your data. They also place tiny cameras nearby that let them record you entering your pin number. With these items of info together, they can drain your bank account and leave you in a precarious financial situation.
3 - Outdoor ATMs
As with gas stations, ATMs on the street or outside of banks are a prime spot for card skimmer and pinhole camera placement. If the card slot on an ATM looks loose or not organic, it could be a card reader placed there for theft. If you have any hint that there might be an external device attached to an ATM, walk away!
4 - Bars and restaurants
With debit card theft at bars and restaurants, it’s done the old-fashioned way when your card is in the hands of a bartender or server and taken out of your sight. They can easily run it through a card reader that records your data. Before you finish your dessert, your card information can be across the country and a fake card made for fraud.
5 – When holds are required
Any place where a company places a “hold” on your card effectively blocks money from your checking account that you cannot access until they drop the hold. It's common when a retailer pre-authorizes a set amount such as with hotels, rental cars, and at gas stations. Holds can run into the hundreds of dollars and wreck your budget.
Even if you don’t like the idea of having a credit card in your wallet because you’re worried about debt, it can save you in certain situations. A credit card uses the issuer as a buffer between you and potential problems. The card issuer protects you from fraudulent transactions, keeps the money in your bank safe, and shields you from identity theft.
This Greensboro consumer tip comes courtesy of the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt. If you’re stuck with debt you can’t afford and looking for a solution, read reviews from our satisfied clients, then call 1-888-234-4181 for a free Greensboro bankruptcy consultation at one of our locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington.