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Debit Card Security Tips

Protecting Your Plastic from High-Tech Criminals

How to keep your credit and debit cards safe

While many consumers still like to use paper money and coins, more and more people are pulling out credit or debit cards to make purchases. And, as the popularity of payment cards has grown, so has the number of criminals trying to steal very valuable details, including the cardholder's name and the card's account number and expiration date, which are printed on the card as well as encoded (for machine readability) in the magnetic stripe or a computer chip.

No matter how your card information is stored, it is in high demand by criminals who would like to retrieve that data to create a counterfeit version of your card or use the information to make purchases online or over the phone.

If you're ever the victim or target of credit or debit card theft or fraud, catching it fast and reporting it to your card issuer are key to resolving the situation. And while federal laws and industry practices protect consumers in these situations, there are important differences depending on the type of card.

What can you do to keep thieves away from your cards... and your money?

Never give out your payment card numbers in response to an unsolicited e-mail, text message or phone call, no matter who the source supposedly is. An "urgent" e-mail or phone call appearing to be from a well-know organization is likely a scam attempting to trick you into divulging your card information. It is called "phishing," a high-tech variation of the concept of "fishing" for account information. If they get confidential details, the criminals can use the information to make counterfeit cards and run up charges on your accounts.

Take precautions at the checkout counter, ATM and gas pump. "Be on the lookout for credit and debit card reading devices that look suspicious, such as a plastic sleeve inside a card slot. Crooks are getting very good at attaching their own devices over legitimate card readers and gathering account information from the cards that consumers swipe through those readers."

Also be alert when you hand your payment card to an employee at a restaurant or retail establishment. For example, if he or she swipes your card through two devices instead of one, that second device could be recording our account information to make a fraudulent card. Report that situation to a manager and your card issuer.

Closely monitor your bank statements and credit card bills. Look at your statements as soon as they arrive in your mailbox or electronic inbox and report a discrepancy or anything suspicious, such as an unauthorized withdrawal. These days it's also easy to monitor your accounts using online banking or Grandview Bank's mobile banking app.

Also don't assume that a small unauthorized transaction isn't worth reporting to your bank. some thieves are making low-dollar withdrawals or charges in hopes those will go unnoticed by the account holders. In one recent example, a federal court temporarily halted an operation that allegedly debited hundreds of thousands of consumer's bank accounts and billed their credit cards for more than $25 million- in small charges- without their consent.

And, contact Grandview Bank if your bank statement doesn't arrive when you normally expect it because that could be a sign that an identity thief has stolen your mail and/or account information to commit fraud in your name.

Periodically review your credit reports for warning signs of fraudulent activity. Credit reports, which are prepared by companies called credit bureaus, summarize a consumer's history of paying debits and other bills. But if a credit report shows a credit card, loan or lease you never signed up for, this could indicate you are a victim of ID theft.

You are entitled to at least one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nation's three major credit bureaus. To maximize your protection against fraud, some experts suggest spreading out your requests throughout the year, such as by getting one free report every four months instead of all three at the same time. To request your free report, call 1-877-322-8228.