Debit Card Fraud: Prevention vs. Protection

Posted June 26th, 2018

Last year, debit card fraud rose 10 percent in the United States and you or someone you know probably fell victim to the increasingly infamous crime.  Cybercriminals have skillfully learned how to obtain debit card information once you make purchases online.  Debit card fraud can also happen offline.  Devices called “skimmers” have become a go-to method for hackers.  Skimmers are attached to ATM machines and gas station “pay-at-the-pump” terminals and can read and store debit card information once the card is swiped.   

With all of these possibilities out there, it is seemingly impossible to prevent debit card fraud, even for the most cautious users.  Here are some tips to remember that could help protect yourself from these hackers and cybercriminals.   

Stick to Amazon.  Okay, you don’t have to use only Amazon for your online purchases.  Just be sure to stick to the popular, “big-box” online retailers.  Steer clear of online retailers with odd domains, or websites that don’t end in “dot com.”  These are usually websites created by individuals, not big retail companies.  At the end of the day, if you’ve heard of them, you’re probably safe.   

Don’t save debit card information.  Websites like Amazon that give you the option to save your debit card information for future purchases are typically harmless.  It’s those odd websites like “” or “” that you should avoid giving debit card information to.  If it doesn’t feel legitimate, it probably isn’t.  

Be on the lookout for skimmers.  Skimmers usually stick out a bit, but do not seem out of the ordinary.  If tugged on, however, they will come off.  When in doubt, gently wiggle the card reader.  If it moves or detaches, you may have found a skimmer and should contact the owner of the terminal immediately.  

Enroll in DECU’s debit card alerts.  These alerts, like the other tips listed above, do not prevent fraud.  But they do go a long way in protecting yourself against it.  Each time you use your debit card, you will be alerted by text message or email with a description of the transaction, which includes time stamp, merchant, and the dollar amount charged.  If anyone tries to conduct charges on your debit card without your authorization, you would know instantly and further fraud would be prevented if you report it immediately by calling the number on the back of your card 800-449-7728.  

In this day and age, you can never be too careful, especially when it comes to protecting your financial security.  Debit card fraud is never completely preventable.  But you can make life very difficult for hackers and cybercriminals by taking these steps to protect yourself. When it comes to fraud, they make it look easy, but it doesn’t always have to be.

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