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Laker Cents: Combat Debit Card Fraud

Have you ever checked your monthly statement or online banking and been upset to see a charge that you didn’t authorize appear?

Unfortunately, this happens to many consumers for a number of reasons. The alarming part about debit card fraud is that if there one authorized charge, you are unsure what other charges can appear.

“So, how does debit card fraud even occur?” This is the most common question we receive from our members in this situation. Fraud can happen in a number of situations and environments:

  1. When you use your debit card to shop online in a public WiFi network, there is a potential for your information to become at risk.
  2. Emails that LOOK safe and are soliciting your information can in fact be deceptive phishing messages.
  3. Thieves that use information “skimmers” on tampered ATM machines can retrieve your information.
  4. Data breaches from merchants occur, putting your card information at risk.
  5. People that you know (or don’t know) somehow gaining access to your card or pin number.

“Does this mean I should always use cash or never shop online?”
 Absolutely not. Debit cards are a quick, convenient, and modern way to utilize your checking account, and they are reliable and safe if used WISELY. Consumers and debit card users need to be aware of where they are using their information and monitoring their transactions very closely to ensure no fraud occurs.

Here’s what YOU can do to prevent debit card fraud from occuring:

Be careful which networks you are using your debit card information on. Your local coffee shop that has unprotected WiFi access? Probably not the best spot to do online shopping. Your private home network with a firewall and secure password? You should be good to go.

Know the signs of phishing emails! If you get an email that asks for ANY account information, ask yourself these questions: did I expect this email to come? Who is the sender? What information are they asking? Where do the direct links in this email take me? Phishing is tricky. A few signs of a phishing email are a suspicious sender address with strange formatting, typos and incorrect grammar, and links that appear to take you to one site, but when you drag your mouse over the hyperlink, a different URL will appear.

Be wary of ATM machines or pin readers that look like they have been tampered with. If it’s outside of a financial institution and anything seems off about it, try and find a new one.

Monitor your bank account closely. Make sure all transactions were authorized by YOU.

Return those calls from your financial institution! Banks and credit unions have many safeguards in place to protect your information. Many times, they will be aware of potential fraud before you are.

Download an app from your bank or credit union that helps you control your debit card. At GLFFCU, we offer MobiMoney, which lets you turn your card on and off, get transaction alerts, set spending limits, and more – putting you in control at all times.

Doing transactions with cards and online is a normal part of our increasingly digital world – but with the convenience and ease comes the crucial need to always be aware of how and where you use information. For a great resource on debit card fraud, check out this article from Ameris Bank.

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