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Risky Places to Swipe Your Debit Card

by Jeremy Holcombe

Debit card swiping is one of the most common practices in the world we live in. Just about everyone has swiped a debit card to pay for something at some point in time. But there are risks involved, especially if you swipe your debit card in certain high-risk places.

Want a quick example of how fast information can leak and get into the wrong hands? Look no further than the example that BankRate.com gives us, regarding the TJX Companies Inc.’s T.J. Maxx data breach, that exposed the payment information of thousands of customers in 2007.

The incident resulted in $150 million in fraud losses, much of it pulled directly from customers’ bank accounts. While credit card users got their accounts straightened out and new cards in the mail within a few days, the case created major problems for debit card holders, who waited an average of two to three months to get reimbursed. This shows us the difference between credit and debit cards.

So, what are a few high-risk places you will want to think about when swiping your debit card?

Skimming ATMs

ATMs are probably the place where you use your debit card most frequently. The idea that it could be that risky seems off base — but the truth is that ATMs present a perfect opportunity for thieves to skim users’ debit cards.

“Any transaction you do outdoors at an open ATM is going to be higher risk exposure.”

“If the public has access to it, then someone has the ability to add skimming devices to it, position cameras on it and position themselves in a way where they could see it.”

Stealing PINs at Gas Stations

This is another danger zone because of one of the same issues — the swipe happens outdoors, and leaves thieves a chance to steal a PIN number.

“In a gas station where you do have a whole bunch of pay-at-the-pump kinds of things and minimal supervision, it’s pretty easy for a bad guy to put a skimming device on and put a little pinpoint camera there and compromise debit cards that way.” Thieves often use small cameras to capture footage of debit card users entering their PINs so they can have free access to their money. Be careful when swiping at gas stations.

Swiping on the Web

This shouldn’t be that big of a surprise to anyone. For as secure as Web transactions are, they are not as secure as you may think. Hackers are always looking to steal information and use it for themselves. Online is the #1 place where consumers shouldn’t use their debit cards, as it leaves you vulnerable.

Restaurants Keep Customer Data on File

This is just a fact of life. You run the risk of being invaded every time you use your card at a restaurant, whether it is a fast food joint or a high-end sit down place.

“Any place where the card is out of hand” can increase the chances of fraud.

“The guy comes to your table, takes your card and disappears for a while, so he or she has privacy,” giving the person the opportunity to copy your card information.

Take extra precautions from now on when you are swiping your debit card.

Article Sources: BankRate.com | MSN Money

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