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Protecting yourself from debit card fraud

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A thief got a hold of woman’s debit card information and raided her bank account. This true story is described in a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.

Thieves can wire money over the Internet and get the cash by showing a false ID, says the article. This kind of fraud is more common than people think. In the woman’s case, Visa detected the theft quickly and she got her money back. Many victims, though, learn they were robbed only after a check bounces.

You can’t 100 percent prevent card fraud because thieves hack into computers at banks and retailers to get card information. A clerk, even, can run your card through electronic skimmers to duplicate it. Skimmers are then swiped through ATM machines or gas pumps, ripping you off. However, there are ways you can reduce the fraud.

Don’t be phishing bait. An e-mail comes to you claiming you must make a payment and includes a link where to do this. These scam e-mails make gullible people think they’re from banks, retailers, even what seems like the IRS. The link to a phony website entices victims into typing in their bank account or credit card numbers: a done deal for the thieves.

Review bank and credit card statements promptly. Reporting something suspicious within two days means minimal liability with bank accounts. Wait too long and you may never recover your loss.

Never lose sight of your debit card. Always watch clerks swipe it. Don’t hand it to anyone else at the store.

Consider ditching the debit/credit card. Use an ATM card and a separate credit card rather than the combo.

Never give your card to anyone. This means a caregiver, nanny, dog sitter, relative—you never know what they may do.

Never give your card or account information to someone who phones you.

Never leave your checkbook around where someone can get at it. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch article reports the case of a man whose girlfriend’s heroin-addict son found his checkbook and wrote checks totaling $40,000 before he realized he’d been robbed.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

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