Tips for responsible use of debit cards

Here are 12 tips for using your debit card wisely:

1. Know which type of debit card you have, and ask your bank whether you have a choice. Some consumers have complained that the bank changed their ATM cards to debit cards that do not require personal identification numbers without letting them know.

2. Always protect your ATM card and keep it in a safe place, just as you would cash, credit cards or checks.

3. Do not leave your debit card lying around the house or on your desk at work.

4. If your card is lost or stolen, or you suspect it is being used fraudulently, report it immediately to your bank.

5. Close your account and ask your bank for a new account number and PIN.

6. Hold on to receipts from your debit transactions. Don’t throw them in public trash cans or even in your own trash without first shredding them. Crooks have been known to “dumpster-dive” for documents that have account numbers and other personal information.

7. Memorize your PIN, and do not write it on your card.

8. Don’t choose a PIN a smart thief could figure out, such as numbers corresponding to your birth date or your phone number.

9. Never give your PIN to anyone. Keep it private.

10. Always know how much money you have in your account, and review bank statements carefully. Don’t forget that your debit card may allow you to access money that you have set aside to cover a check that has not yet cleared your bank.

11. Keep your receipts in one place for easy retrieval and better oversight of your account.

12. Never give your debit card number over the phone unless you initiated the call and are certain that the recipient is legitimate.