Local News

Bankers Warn Convenience of Debit Cards Can Be Attractive to Thieves

Posted December 6, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— They look like credit cards, but they're a lot riskier if they're stolen.

Many remember a time when they had to get cash from an ATM if they didn't want to use a credit card. No longer. With a debit card, a person can walk right into just about any store, and charge his purchases. The difference in this case is that he doesn't get a bill at the end of the month, because the money is deducted directly from his checking account.

Sounds convenient, right? It's also very dangerous. If a thief steals steals this card or the number on it, he can wipe you out.

BB&T cancelled 100 customers' debit cards this week after Visa reported the card numbers stolen. Customers were issued new cards and will be reimbursed.

It's not the kind of news penny-pinching shoppers like to hear during the holiday season. But most are taking it with a grain of salt.

But the ease of using the debit card often outweighs any real concern about theft.

There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from debit card fraud:

  • Sign your card
  • Keep your PIN secret
  • Check your balance frequently
  • Report any problems to the bank within 48 hours

    If your card or number is stolen, the bank investigates. Within 10 days, they will credit your account; within 45 days they will wrap up the investigation. You will most likely be responsible for a $50 deductible.

    Many people see plastic and don't think that it's just like cash, but in this case, that's exactly the case. Be careful.