What You Should Know About Using Your Debit Card Online
A few weeks ago I got a strange phone call from the fraud division of the bank where I have my personal checking account. It seems that someone had charged over $600 to my debit card in Sweden.
Sweden of all places! Now I’m sure Sweden is a very nice place to visit, but I live in the United States and I’ve never been there, let alone charged anything to my debit card there.
I Had Become the Latest Victim of Identity Theft!
Since the bank is closed on the weekend, I was waiting at the front door of the local branch of the bank the next morning when they opened.
After the bank officer that I talked to verified my identity, she asked me if I ever make online purchases on my debit card. I told her that I usually try to pay by Paypal, but when that’s not an option, sometimes I pay with my debit card.
There’s a Safer Way to Pay Online.
She told me that I should never pay online with a debit card, and should try to always use a credit card instead.
Seems when you get hit with a fraudulent charge on a credit card, you are only responsible for the first $50 at the most, and if you inform the company that issued the card soon enough, you owe nothing. They simply cancel your card and issue a new one.
On the other hand, a debit card represents your cash money in your checking account. I had to cancel my account, cough up $200 to open a new checking account, and wait over two weeks for a new debit card and the bank to reimburse the stolen money to my new account.
I didn’t even have access to the $200 in my new account except by writing a check, and who takes those these days?
Protect Your Hardearned Money!
If you make purchases online, and you can’t pay by Paypal, at least try to use a credit card, never your debit card!
You can also sign up for identity theft protection with a company like LifeLock or Identity Guard, but a cheaper alternative might be checking with the insurance company that carries your homeowner’s insurance. They can usually give you an optional endorsement that will cover identity theft, sometimes at a much cheaper cost.
Have you had a similar experience? How do you protect your identity?