Using your debit card to shop for the holidays is certainly convenient and even more prudent than charging up more than you can afford, and then paying off the debt with interest. However, Bank of Utah reminds holiday shoppers that there are some real risks for fraud and ID theft associated with debit card use. That’s why the locally-owned and operated bank is offering safe holiday shopping tips to consumers.
“Eight million fewer Americans are using credit cards this year. Part of the reason may be that people are trying to be more careful with their money and want to avoid paying credit card interest,” says Scott Parkinson, Bank of Utah’s senior vice president of retail banking. “However, because of the greater risk for fraud, we suggest using the credit function when using your debit card because your signature provides the most robust consumer protection.”
Parkinson says some criminals use special tactics to steal PIN and debit card information, which can be a real headache during the holidays. He suggests using the credit option and signature, to take advantage of security protections offered by credit card companies. For example, VISA monitors activity on your card and alerts you immediately of unusual purchases. As an added bonus, credit card companies may offer chargeback rights and warranties if your purchase is defective.
If you still want to use the debit function on your card, Parkinson offers these tips:
- Memorize your PIN and never, ever give it to anyone!
- In stores and at ATMs always cover your card and PIN and watch for:
- Cell phone cameras, mirrors, or other tools used to view cards and PINS.
- People who may be watching your transactions.
- Cashiers who may take your card out of sight (take it to the register yourself).
- Any unusual activity around ATMs. (Now clever thieves can view your information remotely.)
- Unless absolutely required, avoid providing personal information such as address, zip code, phone, birth date, Social Security number, card or account number, expiration date, or your pin.
- If shopping online, never respond to unsolicited emails that ask for verification of your card or account number. Legitimate businesses do not ask for personal information via email.
- Monitor your bank transaction online often to look for unusual activity.
- Shop at reputable retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online.
- Review receipts before you sign.
- If your VISA debit or credit card is lost or stolen call 1-866-ID-HOTLINE, and contact your bank as soon as possible to report the loss. The quicker you act the better.
- ID theft can happen to anyone. Be sure you are covered by some sort of ID theft protection or recovery service. Many banks, including Bank of Utah, offer this type of service for free on consumer banking accounts.