6 places to be extra cautious with your debit card

5 min read
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These days, fraudsters are working overtime to steal your personal debit card data.

This year, Donald Trump’s hotels reported that it is investigating a possible data breach, while Wendy’s and Hyatt confirmed that they suffered the theft of payment card data. But they’re not alone; card data are also being stolen at gas pumps, big-box stores and other businesses in ever-increasing numbers.

The culprit is usually a fraudster skimming for your personal data. Using skimmers, thieves copy your account information from the magnetic stripe on the back of your card. They also get PIN codes so money can be withdrawn at an ATM with counterfeit cards, according to Consumer Reports.

The problem is that your debit card is especially at risk. With stolen data, fraudsters can siphon cash from your checking account, and if you report the loss after more than 2 business days, you can still lose up to $500, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The message: The burden is on you to check your account for any possible losses.

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“That’s money out of my bank account,” says Robert Siciliano, an identity theft expert and CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com in Boston. “When your PIN is compromised, you risk not seeing that money again.”

Credit card users have it easier. When their data are stolen, the maximum out-of-pocket cost is $50.

The good news is that consumers can control their debit card risk. Here’s how.