Debit Cards and Identity Theft

A PIN Doesn’t Necessarily Protect You from Identity Theft

Think you’re safe from identity theft? You may want to think twice. You might regularly shred important financial documents and safeguard your social security number, but that doesn’t mean you are exempt from becoming an identity theft victim. A new type of identity theft recently made headlines and those of us with debit cards may want to stand up and take notice.

The Increasing Trend -- The Increasing Risk

If you’re like many Americans, you probably use your debit card for routine purchases like groceries and gas. While many people have assumed that debit cards are safe to use, some Washington residents recently found out differently. Debit card use was recently the source of identity theft for more than one-hundred customers of a local tobacco store. These customers became the unsuspecting victims of identity theft when they used their debit cards to pay for purchases at the store. Apparently, some sort of device was capturing information from the magnetic strip on the customer’s debit cards in addition to the customers’ PIN numbers when customers completed their purchase. The store owner then sold that information to identity theft criminals in Las Vegas who cloned the debit cards and began withdrawing money from ATMs.

Guarding Your Debit Card

Given the aggravation and financial loss you would experience in such a situation, you might want to reconsider using your debit card to pay for purchases from certain establishments. If your debit card information is stolen, you may be responsible for any charges that occur – although most financial institutions do provide their debit card users with added security.

When you do use your debit card to pay for purchases, make sure you keep the receipts from each purchase you make. Then, when the monthly bank statement comes in, compare the receipts you have to the charges on your bank statement.

Also make sure you check on your balance frequently, either online or via the phone, in order to catch any suspicious transactions as quickly as possible. There are time limits you need to adhere to if you want to limit your losses, and waiting for your monthly bank statements may put you outside of that timeframe.

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