In light of the recent discovery of skimmers placed inside of gas pumps at several local gas stations, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office reminds consumers that while credit cards and debit cards look almost identical, not all plastic is the same. In fact, we strongly urge you to think twice before using your debit card at any of the following locations or situations:
Online – Hackers and vulnerable websites are two reasons you should never use your debit card online. If your card number is stolen your bank account could be drained within minutes. It is important to check with your financial institution about their policies and consumer liability should your debit card be compromised.
Restaurants - Restaurants are one of the few places where you give up control of your debit card to a stranger and trust your personal information will be protected. Although the vast majority of employees at these establishments are trustworthy, you can bet there are unscrupulous servers who secretly bring handheld card skimmers to work.
Big Ticket Items – It is safer to use a credit card when purchasing expensive items such as electronics, vacation rentals, entertainment tickets, etc. as a credit card offers dispute rights if something goes wrong with the merchandise or purchase.
Gas Stations – Fuel pumps are a favorite target for card skimming thieves as the devices used to fraudulently collect credit card numbers are difficult to spot.
Recurring Payments – Because charges are coming directly from your bank account it is never recommended too pay recurring bills using your debit card. Over-limit fees or a company that won’t stop billing are just a few of the problems you may face if you choose to pay bills using this method.
Suspicious Looking ATMS or Card Readers – Take a good look at the machine or card reader the next time you use an ATM or self check lane. Does the machine fit together well or does something look off, different or like it doesn’t belong?
While debit card fraud is always a possibility, being careful where you use it can help keep your checking account balance out of the hands of criminals. If you would like more information about this fraud topic or if you would like to report a fraud or scam to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, contact the Fraud Line at 258-3292.