Debit cards can be a risky swipe

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Because debit cards draw money directly from your checking account, rather than from an intermediary such as a credit card company, even clear-cut cases of fraud where victims are covered by consumer protections can cause hardship while victims wait to get their money returned. To minimize your risk, you may want to avoid using debit cards in circumstances where fraud is more common. I’m Claes Bell with the personal finance minute.

Outdoor ATMs can actually be vulnerable to fraud, say experts, because public access makes it easier for thieves to install skimming devices to capture debit card information.

Gas station pay-at-pump terminals can also be risky because they’re easy for thieves to access and aren’t always monitored closely at night.

The Web is another place you may want to use credit instead of debit if you can. Internet-based purchases offer plenty of opportunities for thieves to snag your payment information, including secretly installing malware on your computer, eavesdropping on unprotected wifi connections and hacking Internet retailers’ databases.

Last but not least, restaurants may be the worst of the bunch. Because servers often take your card out of sight to run it, restaurants offer plenty of opportunities for a rogue employee to steal debt-card information.

For more on this and other personal finance topics, visit I’m Claes Bell.