Debit cards are a useful payment tool for a variety of scenarios. For example, they can be used as an alternative to credit cards to help you avoid falling into the red financially. Debit cards are also convenient; how many times have you taken advantage of the “cash back at checkout” option at a store?
Sometimes it takes a security breach, such as the one Target customers experienced last year, to remind us of the importance of taking proper security measures when using a debit card. Because your debit card is linked directly to your bank account, there are precautions you should take to protect yourself. Here are some examples:
Don’t Get Caught in the Web
While shopping online is convenient and often secure, it also makes you vulnerable to e-theft. If you run into any payment problems or your information gets stolen, your bank account can be compromised. The Federal Reserve’s Regulation E, which covers debit card transfers, mandates that consumers aren’t responsible for more than $50 if a lost debit card or fraudulent charge is reported within two days. (Note: NVE Bank abides by this policy, which can be found in our Terms & Conditions of the Bill Payment Service.) If a thief uses your debit card, not only can your bank account be drained, it can take time for the fraudulent activity to be investigated and your account reimbursed. If you don’t have an emergency savings account or a financial safety net, this can spell big trouble.
Avoid Fraud Hotspots
Certain environments are exceptionally vulnerable to fraud. ATMs, for example, are hotspots for purported “skimmers,” machines installed by scammers to capture your card information. When using any ATM, keep an eye out for any parts of the machine that look unusual or that you haven’t seen before. It’s always smart to cover the keypad with your hand when typing your PIN, just in case a camera is watching.
Rethink Recurring Payments “Set it and forget it” has become a popular approach to paying bills. Automated banking can be extremely convenient, but it also leaves you open to errors. What if you cancel a membership somewhere and the vendor continues to charge your account without you noticing? What happens if you don’t realize your funds are too low to cover an upcoming automatic payment? Without overdraft protection, you may be stuck paying penalties. Rather than recurring debit card payments, consider a credit card.
Keep Your Eyes Open
Many people simply do not check their debit account activity regularly. Review it every few days and if you notice anything questionable, notify your bank immediately.
Due to the accrued interest of credit cards and potential danger of traveling with cash, debit cards are popular when traveling. Before jetting off on a vacation or business trip, take proper precautions. Inform your bank of your travel dates and destinations so they don’t freeze your account due to suspicious activity. Also, be sure your bank has contact information to reach you, if necessary. NVE Bank places the highest priority on customer security and our Branch associates will work with customers to help them properly prepare for their travels.
Finally, don’t bank online using a hotel computer or leave your debit card or personal banking information in your hotel room when you’re not there.
Fraud-proof Your Passwords
Thieves steal passwords in order to gain access to your online accounts. There are ways to minimize the likelihood of this happening. Make sure passwords contain at least eight characters, and are a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Use different passwords for all your accounts; many of us use the same username and password for all our online relationships. This enables a thief who obtains a password through one website to access all online accounts where that same information is used. Store your passwords in a safe place away from your computer, change them a few times a year, and do not share them with anyone.
Most banks, including NVE, let customers set up alerts to inform them of certain transactions. You can receive notifications if account activity is out of the norm. For example, if your balance dips below a certain amount, you will be alerted and can address any issues immediately.
Learn more about the types of debit card-linked accounts NVE offers, as well as other products and services, by visiting our website. You can also stop by your convenient neighborhood branch, or call us at 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265).