When I was growing up, I remember the first ATM in our city. You had to put your card in and a glass shield would lower so you could enter your PIN and get money out. It was glorious. Electronic transactions eventually replaced the manual credit card machine that took an impression of your card, with the usual “clunk-clunk” sound. As a young K-mart cashier in 1986 I never understood having to verify the customer’s credit card number in the rice-paper weekly “bad debtors” list that MasterCard and Visa distributed. It was a different time.
Today, almost everyone on the planet, or at least in the United states (including small children) have a Debit Card linked to a bank account. As you know, debit cards differ from credit cards because they lower your bank account balance immediately upon swiping your card while checking out at a store. Credit cards carry a balance which you pay off at the end of every month, right? Probably not.
So far in 2014, there have been 17 major data breeches at retailers Michael’s, Neiman Marcus, eBay, Dairy Queen, Home Depot, K-mart, and others. While retailers make an effort, or not, to secure your data, cyber-criminals are making an effort at stealing your information.
Worse, if your credit card data is stolen and used for nefarious purposes your recourse is to dispute the charge which might take a few billing cycles. When your debit card is used for said nefarious purposes and you notify your bank, it may take them a week or two to refund the money. For some, that may be a hard pill to swallow as they’re trying to find a way to make their car payment, pay their mortgage, or keep the power on.
PLEASE! Heed my advice and save yourself the trouble… Don’t use a debit card for anything other than getting cash at YOUR BANK’S ATM, never at a retailer or convenience store. Always use a credit card. It will save you in the long run.