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Smart Credit & Debit Tips

Recently credit card companies across the United States have adopted the use of security chip technology to replace the outdated, less secure, magnetic swipe system. Historically, most credit card companies have been good about taking responsibility and resolving fraud, but that may be changing soon. This change will shift the responsibility of fraud onto retailers that do not offer chip technology to their customers. Time will tell how retailers will handle fraud and how much responsibility they will try to put back on the consumer.


Checkout lines may take a bit longer, since the current chip technology is slower than the old magnetic swipe, but chip technology promises to be safer, making it harder for criminals to steal your information. But you still need to be vigilant with how you use your credit card and actively monitor spending activity on your account. One way to address the issue of credit card fraud is to pay for purchases in cash, but obviously carrying around a bunch of cash isn’t very safe and makes it harder to track what your spending on.

Strategies for credit cards
Avoid using your credit card at places with questionable security. Pay at the pump gas stations, parking kiosks or meters, and any unattended self-service terminal provide thieves easy access to place skimming devices. If you like the convenience of paying with a card for things like parking, gas, and vending machines, consider using gift cards or preloaded debit cards with low balances to protect against losses. Use cash at convenience stores, markets and any other temporary vendors like at community events. If they don’t have a retail location, you can’t count on their ability to protect you.

Do not save credit card information online. Keying in your credit card information each time you make an online purchase might be annoying, but having fraud on your account is a much bigger pain. In addition, it doesn’t take much time to input your credit card info online so it’s not worth leaving your information out there for thieves to steal at their leisure. Also, be sure to only use online retailers with a secure checkout system in place. You can verify this by looking for the HTTPS prefix in front of the website address and may also see an image of a green lock in the address bar.

Strategies for bank debit cards
Never use your debit card like a “credit card”. Only use dedicated credit cards as a credit card. The whole reason you have a PIN attached to your credit card is for your protection, by using your debit card as a credit card a PIN is not required. Obviously you wouldn’t want thieves to get their hands on your bank account at the same time, would you? Also, dealing with your bank regarding fraud is a much longer process compared to dealing with the credit card company. Best advice for using bank debit cards, use it at the bank ATM! Alternatively, you can use other bank or credit union ATM’s but there may be additional fees and also note that standalone ATM’s are far more likely to be tampered with by criminals.

Check your activity
Credit card companies are pretty good at spotting questionable activity, but it’s best if you log in to your accounts online to review all transactions frequently. Today, technology is available to help you monitor all of your accounts. Some of these apps and services are free and others are provided by financial advisors or through a subscription of some sort. While advancements in technology like this can simplify how you track your finances, beware of any app or online system that is free. Every business needs to make money somehow or else they can’t stay in business. Many of the free account aggregation services available today sell its users data and heavily market products and services from affiliates in order to collect a commission.

Be smart with how you spend using your credit or debit cards and proactively monitor all of your account activity. It’s not hard to do it and you’ll be happy you did.

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