Debit Card Safety

How do you pay for your purchases? It may be instinct for you to pull out any piece of plastic without thinking, but your random card of choice might not be the safest way to pay. Let’s explore when and how to use your debit card. 

Credit and debit: How are they different? 
Appearances aside, your credit and debit cards have very little in common. Credit cards allow you to choose your purchases now and pay for them weeks, months or even years later. A balance that grows over time will be charged interest, but if you make timely payments, you’ll have yourself a small loan that usually costs you little to nothing. Credit cards also offer rewards, purchase protection and the ability to back out of a purchase you’ve decided against. You can also contest fraudulent charges on your account, or freeze your credit on a compromised card.  

Debit card payments, on the other hand, will take the money right out of your checking account as soon as you swipe. There’s no interest here, but there also may be less purchase protection. Debit cards are great for helping you stick to your budget and steer clear of debt. However, because they may offer little recourse in case of fraud, credit cards can be the better choice in vulnerable situations. 

Here’s where you may not want to use your debit card: 

  • At the pump. Card skimmers at gas stations are on the rise. By using your credit card instead of your debit card at the pump, you’ll have an added layer of protection against fraud. You can also choose to use cash and avoid the risk of getting skimmed altogether. 
  • At an isolated ATM. Isolated ATMs in locations with very little security and sparse foot traffic are prime targets for hackers.
  • In an unfamiliar location. When on vacation, think before you swipe. You don’t know the area and you can’t be certain which clerks are to be trusted. You’re better off paying with a credit card or with cash so your purchases are protected against fraud. 
  • For large purchases. If you’re springing for a big-ticket item, use your credit card. It’ll offer you dispute rights in case the product doesn’t turn out as you expected. 
  • Restaurants. When you hand a restaurant server your debit card at the end of a meal, they have more than enough time to also swipe your card info! 

Look out for skimmers.
DoverPhila Federal Credit Union encourages its members to use their debit or credit card with caution. It is always good practice to check the payment processor for anything that looks out-of-place, such as a newer keypad on an older machine or a hard-to-use slot for cards.

Stay ahead of hackers.
The credit union offers the My Mobile Money App, a mobile app that helps you control and monitor debit card usage anywhere and at any time using your smartphone, for free! Download the app and take control for your debit card by clicking here.

What Happens When Your Debit Card Is Compromised

Finding out that your debit card information was compromised is unnerving. Unfortunately, this type of fraud is on the rise and there is no way to avoid it. Card compromises occur when unauthorized individuals gain access to debit card information through a merchant or card processor computer system. This is sometimes referred to as “hacking” into or installing “Malware” to capture data on a computer system. Even though a card is compromised, it does not mean there is fraudulent activity occurring within the member’s account. 

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is notified by their card processor and/or MasterCard® when there is a compromise situation. To minimize your inconvenience with compromised cards, DoverPhila will send a notification letter to the affected member that a new card has been ordered.  Within two weeks of the date of this letter, your new card should arrive in a plain white envelope.  Your compromised debit card will automatically be cancelled two weeks after the date on the notification letter; if you would like this card closed immediately, please contact the debit card department.

Your new card will be assigned a PIN (personal identification number) which, for security reasons, will arrive in a separate mailing roughly three days after the arrival of your new debit card.

For questions or additional information, please contact a DoverPhila Federal Credit Union member service representative by calling 330-364-8874.