Five Places You Should Never Use Your Debit Card

Debit cards are a convenient way to avoid piling on more credit card debt, but they aren’t always the best choice

Print Email

Online shopping sites that aren’t secure: It seems obvious, but many of us are guilty of giving up our card numbers without checking on the security of the site. Before you enter your digits too quickly, look for the lock icon at the front of the site’s URL.

Gas pumps and self-checkout stations: These places are sweet targets for debit card skimming devices that can sit there for months without anyone ever noticing. They’re tiny, not obvious to the average customer and easy for thieves  to retrieve or install in minutes.

Outdoor ATMs and pay terminals: Avoid using ATMs that are out in the open (on the sidewalk, in the corner store) whenever you can. And when you have to use them, at least be sure to cover the PIN pad while entering your information. You never know who might be watching you or if there’s a hidden camera nearby. Outdoor stations, including fast-food drive-throughs, are prime locations for hidden skimmer devices.

Cell phone charging stations: We know what it’s like to have a dead battery, but swiping your card to get access to free charging stations at the airport could be putting you in danger. The kiosks areperfect for skimming and nefarious card-information storage, and have also been known to dump the information from your cell phone while charging, also known as juice jacking.

Desktop or mobile applications: Watch out for apps and pop-ups on your computer and phone that ask for card information outside of the official program or app store. Things like “You have a virus—please deposit $10” or “Your files have been encrypted and can be unlocked for a certain price.” You’ve probably seen at least one of these pop ups before. It might seem obvious, but be alert and don’t fall for the traps.