Tips on protecting your debit cards from compromise

One of the most common concerns of some customers I have come across in retail banking has been the security of their debit cards. Nearly no week goes by without one kind of fraud claims or the other being filled by a customer. Some even shy away from having debit cards issued and linked to their accounts either because they have been badly burnt in the past or simply for fear of the unknown.

Here are a few safety tips;

1. Avoid linking your savings account to your debit cards, Link only the checking account. That way even if your debit card is stolen or compromised, the thief will have no access to your Savings Account.

2. Maintain low balance in your checking, only leave as much to cover your immediate and some recurring bills . You can always utilize online banking to transfer from your savings to your checking account instantly when ever you want to make a large debit card purchase.

3. When making payments using public Point of Sale(POS) systems such as gas stations, corner grocery and convenience stores, it is advisable you swipe your debit card as credit, most debit cards serve the dual purpose. By that I mean do not use it as a pin based transaction, using it as a credit card  will not require you imputing your pin number. This is a necessary precaution in order to prevent  your card number and pin number  from being stolen at the same time. Armed with  both your card and pin number, fraudsters can easily produce duplicate cards with which they  can cause more havoc to your checking account before you realize it. They could simply go the ATM and withdraw all your cash. The chances are limited when processed as credit.

Keep in mind, as always, you can always dispute  unauthorized charges with your bank but the recovery process is much easy if you used your card as  a credit based. But if used  as a PIN based  debit transaction and your pin is stolen, the recovery process gets a little bit  more clumsy. Keep in mind also that  you are solely responsible for keeping your PIN number safe, there is a reason why  it is  called  PIN( Personal Identification Number), no one else is supposed to know your pin. If  your pin is compromised, the burden of proof is entirely on you.

4. Get into the habit of changing your PIN numbers periodically, and avoid using numbers that are easy to guess such as last four digits of your social security number, numbers off your phone number, your date of birth or using sequential numbers such as 1234 etc. Be creative in choosing your PIN numbers.

5. Absolutely Do not share your PIN( Personal Identification Number)  with anyone, under no circumstances should you do that. Not even your spouse or other family members, doing so will be  strictly at your own peril in case of a compromise. Again, I cannot emphasis it enough, it is your responsibility to keep your PIN safe, not the bank's responsibility.

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