Q: I like the convenience of using my debit card, but I’m worried about the security. Are there places I should avoid using my debit card?
A: Local law enforcement recently sent a fraud alert that warns consumers to be careful using debit cards in certain places. This warning comes after skimmer machines were discovered on gas pumps at several local gas stations. The Lee County Sheriff’s office urges people to think twice before using debit cards at the following locations:
- Online – Hackers and vulnerable websites are two reasons you should avoid using your debit card online. If your card number is stolen and used, the money comes directly out of your checking account and it could take weeks, if not longer, to get it back.
- Restaurants – When using a debit card at a restaurant, you give up control of your debit card and trust your personal information will be protected. Although most servers are trustworthy, you may not want to risk getting that unscrupulous server who secretly brings a handheld card skimmer to work.
- Big Ticket Items – It’s safer to use a credit card when purchasing expensive items, such as electronics, vacation rentals, entertainment tickets, etc. When you use a credit card, you can dispute a charge after a purchase, whereas with a debit card, the money comes directly out of your checking account.
- Gas Stations – Fuel pumps are a favorite target for card skimming thieves as mentioned above. The devices are used to fraudulently collect credit and debit card numbers and they can be difficult to spot.
- Suspicious-Looking ATMS – Just like at gas stations, skimmers can be attached to ATMs, so it’s important to take a good look at an ATM before you use it. If anything looks suspicious, just walk away.
FineMark National Bank & Trust has an office on The Island at Shell Point Retirement Community. If you have questions about this article, contact us by phone at (239) 461-5999.