My Debit Card Number Was Stolen – Don’t Be a Victim

My Debit Card Number Was Stolen – Don’t Be a Victim

Like many people, I have an ATM/Debit card that I use for a variety of purchases and to occasionally use to get cash out of an ATM.

However, I was recently the victim of attempted fraud where someone had gotten ahold of my debit card information (number, expiration, etc.), put it on a fake card and attempted to use it. One small problem for the criminal, my bank, USAA, uses advanced technologies to monitor my  accounts and I was notified of the fraudulent activity almost immediately. According to the fraud analyst I spoke with, someone in Florida attempted to buy $100+ of product at a Wal-Mart using a physical card. Fortunately, they declined the charge and alerted me. I imagine that the red flags went off when I used my card on the same day in California and minutes later the attempt was made in Florida.

Which begs the question, what can you do to protect yourself from such a crime? Here are some tips:

  • Do not use an ATM – I know, it sounds weird but criminals have developed sophisticated ways to get your card information and PIN number by using skimmers and cameras they have covertly installed on ATMs. Instead, go to a grocery store and make a small purchase and then get cash back.  Bonus tip: If your bank charges you fees to withdraw cash from an out of network ATM, they may not charge you for getting cash back on a PIN-based transaction at a grocery store. Not only are you using a more secure way of getting cash, you’re saving money in the process. Since banks vary, be sure to check with your particular financial institution to find out their policies.
  • If you use an ATM, cover your PIN entry – Shield one hand while inputting the number with the other.
  • If you have to use an ATM, try and go to an actual bank location and not a “convenience” ATM at a liquor store, restaurant, or somewhere else. Those machines don’t typically have the same security as those at banks and are easier for criminals to take advantage of.
  • Look for security tape/seals – A lot of gas stations are starting to put seals (pieces of printed tape) on the accessible/sensitive areas of their gas pumps. If the seal is broken or missing, it may indicate tampering. While not foolproof, especially since not every business is employing it as a security measure, it does provide some peace of mind.
  • Check your statements – Kind of obvious, but be on the lookout for odd transactions. Since I do my banking online, I’m able to check my accounts as frequently as I want. I like to look every few days or so.
  • Save those receipts – I know it’s hard to do sometimes, but saving receipts helps provide a record of purchases you’ve made. In the off chance you need to prove you didn’t make a purchase, you can at least show a history of previous purchases.

Unfortunately, fraud attempts like my situation are going to happen no matter how vigilant you are at protecting yourself. However, by using some of the tips I mentioned above, you’re at least able to minimize the risk.


Disclosure of Material Connection

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a modest commission from the sale. These links help support the maintenance of this website.

Please be advised that I only recommend products or services that I have used or tried personally and believe will add value to my readers' lives. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”