Debit Card Do’s and Don’ts  – A Safety Checklist

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DCCU debit card MastercardDebit cards – the modern payment convenience item that makes purchasing any item or service so much easier than using cash or writing a check. Many of us have been using them for so long it’s not even a second thought. While some folks are new to this method and are still learning.

No matter which camp you’re in, there is good reason to review the do’s and don’ts regarding your debit card, as well as common practices to protect yourself from fraud.

The safety of your identity and money is at stake. Remember that scammers never take a break from scamming. At any time they can take advantage of our slip ups faster than a Badger eats a bag of fresh curds. Be vigilant and make sure you are following each of these checkpoints.

Debit Card Do’s

Choose a PIN that is difficult for someone else to figure out or guess.

No birthdates, phone digits or SSNs – make it random. (You’ll see this again below, but I have to say it here too: NEVER give ANYONE your PIN.)

safe online shopping on laptopChange your PIN if you suspect anyone has seen it when you enter it into a machine or terminal.

DCCU members can do this at any time at a DCCU ATM/ITM (the ones at our branches.)

Use your card for everyday transactions like gas, food and coffee.

It’s a good idea to have a paper trail of each transaction and if you can keep the receipts for a month or two, even better.

Check your online account every day so you can quickly spot and report any unauthorized activity.

Side benefit – this allows you to keep good records and keep track of spending. This task is very easy to do with DCCU’s eBanking and mobile app.

Only shop on secure websites

Before you order anything online, check for a security symbol such as a padlock or “https,” in the URL or address field. These symbols mean your personal and account information will be encrypted and therefore safer.

contactless payment digital walletUse a digital wallet or touchless payment when available

Storing your debit card information in a reputable digital wallet on your phone provides a double layer of security. First your phone is locked until you put in your passcode or use biometrics (fingerprint or facial recognition). After your phone is unlocked, your digital wallet keeps your debit card number safely hidden in a randomly generated numeric code, known as a token. The merchant never “sees” or stores your card number.

Set up Alerts and/or CardValet

These two tools can notify you of unusual account activity. Alerts are set up through eBanking Self Service and CardValet is an app you download. Both have helpful features for added safety and better money management.

stop light for debit card don'tsDebit Card Don’ts

Never give your PIN to anyone

This is Rule #1 when owning a debit card. But unbelievably, People. Still. Do. This. It’s the fastest and easiest way for your account to get drained and compromised. Please, for the love of every past and future Packer Super Bowl win, don’t share your PIN.

Do I even need to mention that you should NOT write your PIN on the card itself? No, you already know that, right? Please say yes.

Contact DCCU or your financial immediately if your card or PIN has been compromised, lost, or stolen to prevent personal liability of any losses.

Don’t make online transactions on open networks

If you’re on an open (no password required) or public WiFi network and decide to make an online purchase, you’re account information is vulnerable to being stolen by scammers. These fools have software that endlessly searches for strings of digits that could possibly be account numbers and they can easily snatch them out of thin air if the network is unsecured.

Don’t email your card number or PIN

Email is generally not a secure way to send sensitive information. There is not typically a straight line between you and the recipient of your message. Your message travels through and talks to many different servers to find the right route. It’s similar to the many hands a letter would touch via snail mail. You have no control over it passing through an unsecure or malicious server searching for a string of digits.

Debit card for online shoppingDon’t share your card number where others can overhear

Once an experienced scammer has your account number it doesn’t take long for them to figure out your expiration date and CVC number. It’s easy access to your money.

Don’t store your card info on any websites

It’s just not safe because you don’t have any control over how long they store it or what happens if their system gets hacked. Be sure to use a secure password keeper.

Remember to stay vigilant to keep your money and personal information secure. Some of these Do’s and Don’ts may seem obvious to seasoned debit card users, but they bear repeating. And for new users these best practices are the gold standard and if you follow them from the start, you greatly reduce your risk of becoming a victim of financial fraud.

Bonus Pro Tip: defend your personal info and secure your digital privacy by enrolling in Mastercard® ID Theft Protection, available at no cost to folks who use DCCU’s debit Mastercard®.

Contact DCCU immediately if your debit card or PIN has been compromised, lost, or stolen to prevent personal liability of any losses.

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Jen M.

Jen has been with DCCU since she graduated from UW Madison - a long time ago. As the Content Strategist she helps share all the amazing things DCCU does in our community and spreads the credit union philosophy of People Helping People. When she's not working for the best credit union in south central Wisconsin, she's busy with 4 kids and a feisty little dog at home. She formed her family through adoption and has a deep passion to support foster and adoptive parents and kids. Her favorite place to relax is poolside or in front of the fireplace.