When it comes to making purchases with your debit or credit card, it’s easy — swipe or insert your card, enter your PIN (if you’re using a debit card), approve the transaction. However, making purchases online with your debit card is even easier, as popular e-commerce websites can save your card information to make buying online even easier. However, in 2019, debit card fraud rose over 10 percent in the United States, and even the most cautious consumers can be at risk if they aren’t careful.
When shopping offline, consumers should be on guard regarding “skimmers,” which are devices used by hackers that are generally attached to ATMs and pay-at-the-pump gas stations designed to read and store debit card information once the card is swiped.
Overall, while it may not be entirely possible to completely prevent personal and financial fraud, there ways you can protect yourself while making purchases both online and off. Here are a few tips:
- Don’t save your personal or financial information online. Many browsers may ask if you want to save your information — both personal and financial — while making a purchase online. While this may be tempting and time-saving for future purchases, you might run into issues if it’s an unsecured website. Sites like Amazon where you can save your card information on your account, rather than through your browser’s autofill settings, is a better option.
- Avoid shopping with online retailers that aren’t widely known. Most consumers who shop online swear by big box retailers like Amazon and Wayfair, and websites for Walmart, Target and Costco. One way to shop safely and smartly online is to stick to these big-name retailers who have name-brand value. Any other sites with odd domain names, or addresses that end in anything other than “dot com” might be suspect as they are often run by individuals and not larger retail companies.
- Keep an eye out for skimmers when using your card on the go. If you’re unsure of what a skimmer looks like, start by checking out the card reader and see if it sticks out at all. If you’re in doubt, wiggle the reader a bit — if it is indeed a skimmer, it’ll tug off. If you encounter something like this, let the cashier or terminal owner know immediately to prevent any further card fraud.