It’s no secret on here that my husband and I don’t use credit cards. Heck, we don’t even have a credit card to use even if we wanted to! This is due to our belief in living a life free of debt and we like it that way.
However, I know that many of our real life friends and family along with several of my readers are frightened to take the plunge into a life without credit cards because of the security that using a credit card offers. After all, if someone stole your card number they’d just be racking up debt on your credit card instead of stealing your cash in your checking account that was meant to pay your bills and buy groceries.
I get that. It’s happened to us – our debit card being stolen and waking up to find that all of our money vanished overnight. It’s not fun, but there are things you can do protect yourself from this happening while staying clear of credit cards.
1. Have a money minute every day or at least once a week. Whenever I log into our bank online I can view all the transactions from that day and know if there are any that we did not authorize and believe it or not, this has actually saved us a few times when my business debit card was stolen a few weeks ago.
2. When shopping online, make sure that the site’s URL (example: www.thebudgetmama.com) has “https” in front of the URL instead of “http”. The “s” means that the site is secured so you can feel confident purchasing from the retailer using your debit card.
3. Make sure your online passwords don’t have a personal connection. I’m the worse with this to be honest. I find myself using the same few passwords for everything because it’s so much easier to remember but it makes me so much more likely to get hacked and to have our account information stolen. You can use an internet extension like Google Chrome’s Last Pass to help create and then store intricate passwords or you can do what one of my college professors suggested that works great. Simply look around you and pick a couple of things that stand out and make your password reflect that. For instance, right now, there’s a blue pen on my desk, a cardinal is perched in a tree outside my window and today’s date is the 18th. So, I could create a password that said “bluecard18”.
4. Use the chip reader instead of swiping your card. I know, I know those dang readers can be annoying but they are designed to protect you from someone stealing your information so make sure you use them when you can.
*** Some banks are flagging your cards when you make a purchase at one retailer without using the chip reader and then making another purchase on the same day using the chip reader. I actually had this happen to me when standing in line to purchase groceries where our debit card was denied and I had to call the bank to confirm and verify our transactions. And this is why I should always follow my own advice about grocery shopping with cash only….
5. Never ever give away your information via email or over the phone. I know that sounds obvious but you have no idea how many times this scam has cost someone their information and money.
6. If you haven’t already, sign up for alerts from your bank and they will notify you of any suspicious activity.
7. Make sure all your account information is up-to-date. If you’ve moved or changed phone numbers recently, make sure your bank knows about it and that your account information has been properly updated.
8. Sign up for electronic statements. I’m a huge paper fan and I’ll be honest, this one was hard for me to do. But honestly, the less paper clutter the better and this helps to keep our information from floating around for someone else to grab.
9. Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access your bank information or make a purchase online if you don’t truly have to. Public Wi-Fi isn’t encrypted like a password protected connection which makes any information you pass through the public channel susceptible to hackers.
These things will help to keep you more secure when shopping online with your debit card and will help protect your identity, but I know that some of y’all are still concerned about your debit card information being stolen and then having to fight with your bank about getting the money back.
So here’s another tidbit that many folks don’t know, debit cards actually have the same exact card agreement as using a credit card. So, if you when you’re checking out using your debit card, select “credit” instead of “debit” and you’re guaranteed the same fraud protection on your debit card as you would be on a credit card.
What is your number one tip for protecting yourself against fraud while using your debit card?
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