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Will that be debit or credit?

By Kemberley Washington ·
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Posted: 9 am ET

The recent Target Corp. payment data breach impacted more than 40 million customers and raised an interesting question: Which is safer, debit cards or credit cards?

Credit card users have more protection: They are only liable up to $50 for fraudulent activity, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). That is true regardless of how long it takes you to discover the transaction.

By contrast, with debit cards, time is of essence. Users should check their bank transactions as soon as possible, since debit cards users are only liable for $50 if potentially fraudulent activity is reported within two calendar days after you discover the transaction, according to the FDIC. However, after two days, users could be liable for at least $500, and possibly more.

When swiping a debit card, keep in mind that you are putting your entire bank account at risk. Therefore, if you fall victim to a payment breach, it puts much of your hard-earned savings at risk, such as the cash you earn from your paycheck.

Here are a few tips to protect your debit card:

  • Set up alerts through your financial institution so you are notified each time your account is used.
  • Consider using a credit card for shopping, as it offers better protection.
  • If you prefer to use a debit card, open a separate account linked to the card. Then, keep that account funded at relatively low levels. That way, you will not suffer major financial damage if your card is used fraudulently.

Remember to remain vigilant. The key to protecting yourself is keeping an eye on your finances.

Kemberley Washington is a certified public accountant and professor at Dillard University at New Orleans. She writes a personal fiance blog at Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook. 


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January 01, 2014 at 3:42 pm

New Year's resolution after having to replace debit cards from Target breach - going back to using more cash - will probably spend less that way too.

Rick Tarantino
January 01, 2014 at 1:00 pm

We have been down this road of using credit/debit cards for such a long time I doubt it could be reveresd, but I still prefer to write checks n use cash. It just never made sense to me to pay a middleman for the privilage to spend my money. I would love to see more people follow suit and put a dent in the financial institutions pocket book. Not to mention it takes away the potential threat of hackers.

December 30, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Debit cards are for dummies. Purchase gasoline----the merchant captures TWICE the amount till processed. Challenged charges for goods or services require confronting the vendor to resolve---not easily accomplished. Credit card charges, when questioned receive immediate action resulting in charge-backs and causing the vendor to prove the act.

December 30, 2013 at 10:50 am

Simple, credit card is OPM, not your money. Duh! why expose your own account.

December 30, 2013 at 9:20 am

what a lovely world we live in you just cannot trust anyone, why is there so many crooked people in the world because we are greedy and in a big hurry , i for one have had credit cards, and they all flooped and so did i, i will not make that mistake again, now that i heard of these hackers stealing , they are crooks that know how to ruin ,your life and get away with it to boot???. if noone is safe with there money, then forget the real meaning of living free, because we are not.

December 30, 2013 at 8:24 am

In all fairness to the banks. Even though I check my accounts everyday and sometime twice a day, my card was breached. I think the banks software does a good job in tracking spending habits and trends. The inconvenience, they freeze your card immediately and you have to get a new one however, the fraudulent charges are removed.

December 30, 2013 at 8:14 am

I am not good with credit cards because putting of payment runs up more charges. Paying with debit allows the payment to be taken care of immediately. So I do have habit of checking my checking account every other day online.

David Ramirez
December 30, 2013 at 8:08 am

Financial institutions can set limits on how much a debit transaction can be during one use of your debit card. For example, set the limit to 100.00 per day. This will help protect your account especially if you are alerted when someone tries to access or charge more than 100.00. If you need more than 100.00 in one given day, you can withdraw that amount from your financial institution or atm prior to your shopping day.

December 30, 2013 at 5:22 am

always use credit

December 30, 2013 at 1:54 am

CASH !!!!!!!!!!!!