Monday, October 24, 2011

George Mindling Column 10-29-2004 - Handle Credit, Debit Cards With Care

Handle Credit, Debit Cards With Care 

Not many messages left on your telephone answering machine are as distressing as the message from your credit card company's security division that asks you to call immediately. 

A quick telephone call and we were relieved to find the credit card company had stopped a series of transactions initiated on line by someone who had pilfered our account number. Whoever used our account number didn't have the expiration date, so our company disallowed the charges and froze the account. 

The aggravation of having a new account number and waiting on new cards is well worth the security of not having to worry about being billed for someone else's criminal intent. We had considered debit cards, and had decided to stay with our credit cards instead. The difference between credit cards and debit cards comes into sharp focus on the web page. 

According to, known as Best Credit Solutions, "The biggest advantage of debit cards is convenience. Not only do you not have to carry cash, you don't run up interest charges like you would with a credit card. The major disadvantage of using debit cards is that they might not afford you the financial protection that credit cards do as regards fraud. 

If your credit card is stolen, you will only be required to pay $50.00, if you must pay anything at all. However, if your debit card is stolen, a thief can use it at many locations without being required to have access to a PIN number. Money lost from your bank account in this manner is not refundable. 

And thieves don't have to have your actual card. If they acquire your number, they can drain your checking account entirely. However, both Visa and Mastercard offer a $50 limit on liability on fraudulent charges made with the debit cards they issue. But does your local bank?" 

The "easy pickings" people are looking to take your money every way they can. There are several hints for every debit or check card transaction: 
  • Verify the amount that has been punched in by the cashier before completing the transaction; 
  • Ensure that you are using the correct debit or check card and that there is cash in the account. At some banks a charge is incurred when a transaction is declined for lack of funds;
  • Make sure that you are fully aware of the charges that will be incurred for each transaction; 
  • Ensure that you receive a bill and a copy of your transaction record. Keep your records and make your entries into your checkbook register as soon as you can.
  • Always keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) confidential. Do not disclose it to anyone.
  • Make sure your choice of card protects you in case of account number or card theft. You can minimize your losses by carefully choosing the card that best suits your needs and finances while offering loss protection. The difference between a $50 charge and having your checking account cleaned out is something to weigh carefully, especially of your savings account is used as overdraw protection against your checking account.

George Mindling © 2004

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