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Smart and Safe Debit Card Usage for Credit Union Members

Smart and Safe Debit Card Usage for Credit Union Members

Whether obtaining cash from an ATM, making a PIN-based transaction at no charge, or getting cash back at the register, credit union members enjoy the modern conveniences of debit cards on a daily basis. However, as attractive as debit cards are to us because of the convenience and efficiency they offer, they are also that attractive (if not more) to potential thieves for other reasons – debit cards offer access to instant cash, and cash is the ultimate form of currency for a thief.

Therefore, if you plan to use your debit card for withdrawals and purchases with any frequency, it is important to be vigilant when it comes to your money and your identity by taking the proper precautions. By taking the time to follow some smart tips from Credit Unions Online when using your debit card, you can protect yourself, keep your financial information (and ultimately your cash) safe and secure, and outsmart thieves.

5 Debit Card Safety Tips from Credit Unions Online

  1. Don’t share your Personal Identification Number (PIN) code under any circumstances.

Although you may feel comfortable doing so, do not share your PIN even with those you trust. You never how relationships may change or if a person could be put in a situation in which they are harassed into revealing your PIN. It is best to simply avoid these possibilities altogether and keep your PIN private.

In addition, never give out personal information such as your PIN to strangers over the phone, email, or text. Despite any convincing solicitations or phone calls you may receive, it is best to politely decline no matter who they claim to be. Also report any calls, emails, or texts claiming to be from your credit union and requesting personal information…your credit union will NEVER do this for any reason since they already have your information.

  1. Protect your PIN.

Be sure to protect any personal identification numbers, passwords, and user IDs. Never write this information down, keep it in your wallet, or save it on a computer or website. Also, make PINs, passwords and user IDs complex enough not to be guessed and be aware of your surroundings when using your PIN to check out at a store or when using the ATM. Literally, shield your PIN with your hand or body so others cannot see it.

In addition, switch things up when it comes to your debit card passwords. In the event that one of your accounts gets compromised and the intruder tries to do the same with another, their plan will be foiled. Though this may take some extra brainwork on your part, it will be well worth it to avoid the hassles associated with ID theft and stolen funds.

  1. Practice ATM safety.

Be alert at all times and err on the side of caution when it comes to ATM usage in order to avoid scams like skimming and rigging. Skimming is a crime that happens when your card is scanned through a device, set up by the thief, which captures your data. Rigging involves a person who seems to be using the ATM for a transaction but is actually rigging the slot on the machine so as to capture the card of the next person who uses it.

Since thieves are always coming up with new and better ways as well as better equipment to victimize consumers, we must work to stay informed and be one step ahead of them. According to, the following are some basic safety rules for using the ATM:

  1. Monitor your account by checking frequently.

First be sure to set up online banking so you have the ability to check your account on a regular basis in order to make sure there is nothing out of the ordinary going on. Also check your financial statements regularly. If you happen to notice anything unusual, contact your financial institution right away.

  1. Report to your credit union in the event of a debit card issue.

Finally, if you think your debit card has been lost, stolen, or compromised, report this to your credit union immediately. When you speak with your credit union, provide any information you have that you think may have affected or led to the compromise such as an easy PIN, other ID in your wallet that could help determine the PIN, or the PIN being written down in your wallet or on the card. In such cases, it’s best to have your credit union cancel the card right away. If it turns out you were the victim of debit card fraud, know that you are protected and will be reimbursed by your credit union for any losses that were beyond your control.

We all want to take advantage of technological advances as they relate to managing our finances, and debit card usage is one way to do to so. However, as we have learned, with technology comes related scams and thievery. By following the tips outlined here and using some good old common sense, you can be financially savvy and smart at the same time!



By Cyndi Cohen
Published April 17, 2012
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