How many times have I preached about keeping your eye on your debit card or any card that accesses your money? Probably as many times as I have begged people to contact me weeks before your event is scheduled and to send me an email with request for coverage in the subject line.
I digress, this column is really about money and debit cards. My card was recently hacked. I was devastated. I had successfully used my card on a recent Friday night but was denied that following Saturday morning. I thought the problem had to do with my new card that I failed to activate.
When I got home I called my financial institution. After answering numerous questions they wanted to know had I recently been out of town about 300 miles away. I said no however it seems like my debit card had taken a vacation. Thank goodness the fraud system at my bank caught this fraudulent transaction and they shut down my card and I didn’t lose a dime.
Can you say hallelujah! I was so relieved I didn’t mind the inconvenience of not being able to get any money out of my account earlier that morning. I was trying to figure out how my card was compromised. I spoke to the teller about it and he informed me that he saw on the news that a skimmer was found at one of the gas stations on Frankstown Avenue in Penn Hills. I use this gas station all the time.
For those who don’t know what a skimmer is it is a device that can be placed at a “pay at the pump” device or over an ATM or at a merchant terminal.
When you swipe your card they can gather your mag strip information and there are ways to get your PIN number as well.
Please be careful where you use your card and take a look at the device before you insert your card. In addition keep a close check on your accounts that are tied to your debit card. Check it daily actually twice a day is not too often. The sooner you notice the problem the quicker you can stop any illegal action.
Fraud sources say there are only two types of fraud victims: those who have been hacked and those who do not know they have been hacked. Here are a few tips.
1. Don’t have an automatic overdraft protection tied to your savings. This allows the fraudster to keep spending not only your checking but all of your savings as well.
2. Change your PIN number often and try to pick a strong PIN number.
3. Don’t be afraid to use cash, trust me if you use cash more often you will spend less and will have more money to save.
4. Listen to your local and national news. There is a lot of hacking going on and it usually ends up on the evening news. You want to know if the latest breach took place at a place that you frequent.
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