Nov 232017
 
Free standing ATM machines

Steven Seamark | SafeBillPay.net

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Freestanding, non-bank ATMs are one of the riskiest places to use your debit card. You know those ATMs you see at gas stations, convenience stores, airports and even sometimes at hotels and restaurants? Those machines are extremely vulnerable to hacking. Because of the high volume of traffic, it’s easy to for thieves to install skimmers unnoticed. And the staff at these places are typically not trained to spot skimmers or to notice if something is off or different about the ATM machine.

Using the external ATMs at the bank itself also presents a risk (though not as great a risk) for two reasons. One, because these machines are not supervised at all times, they are susceptible to being hacked / skimmed. The FBI’s fraud division suggests checking for signs that the ATM has been tampered with or damaged in any way, such as loose parts or screws, or parts that seem added on or mismatched. If you see such signs, don’t use the machine, and report it to the bank.

Second, there is the risk of being robbed if you use the machine after hours or at night.

For these reasons it’s safest to use the ATM inside the bank whenever possible.

Jul 082017
 
Where not to use your debit card

Steven Seamark | SafeBillPay.net

Debit cards look just like credit cards and can be used in much of the same ways, so we sometimes make the mistake of thinking they are the same in all respects. They are not. There’s an important risk that comes with debit cards that is not present with credit cards: it’s much harder to recover your money in case of fraud.

With a credit card, if you find a fraudulent charge on your statement you can dispute it and refuse to pay, and the charges will generally be removed after a cursory investigation.

In the case of debit cards, however, the fraudulent charge draws directly from your bank account. Even if you dispute the charge and eventually get reimbursed by the card issuer, the process can take two or three months, and in the meantime that money is gone from your account, and that could cause some hardship.

So it’s best to be careful where you use your debit card. Here are four places where the risk is especially high:

1. Restaurants

The absolute riskiest place to use your debit card is at a sit-down restaurant.

If you use a debit card to pay your bill at a sit-down restaurant – the kind where the server takes your card away and returns with a receipt – you might well be ordering a side of debit card fraud with your steak and potatoes. During the time the server is gone he/she could make an impression of your card or copy the information.

Even if it’s not a sit-down restaurant – say you call in a delivery order and pay by debit card – some restaurants will keep your card info on file for ease of ordering with future orders. The problem with that is that many small businesses do not have security measures in place to protect your card information.

I consider major chain fast-food restaurants to be an exception. At the drive-in, you hand them the debit card, they swipe it and hand it back just a few seconds later. And major chains will likely have security measures in place. And if you dine-in, of course, you insert the card into the reader yourself. The point being, your card is never really out of your sight.

Next: Part 2 – Internet Shopping

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