8 Reasons to Worry About Debit Cards


Hotels and Gas Stations Can Hold Your Money: "Some gas stations continue to impose debit card blocks," says Mierzwinski. "A few stations may charge $1 to see if your card works, but there are still some that impose blocks of up to $100 that are not removed for one to two days. This can hurt people."

Mary Alice Belov, a small business owner, told Consumer Reports, she had to return items in her shopping cart after a $10 gas charge resulted in a $50 hold on her account.

Increasing Levels of Fraud: "Fraud on debit cards is a big issue. It's increasing at the ATM with the cloning of the cards using skimmers," says Mierzwinski.

Skimmers, devices attached to the card reader that supply a criminal with debit card information, have been discovered at three banks in Savannah, Georgia, this year, according to the Savannah Morning News. Police found a skimmer at a SunTrust ATM and may have stopped the thief in his track. But they weren't as lucky at the Georgia's Own Credit Union, where 276 customers' information was compromised, according to a police report filed Thursday.

Unlimited Liabilities: The electronic banking act leaves debit card holders legally responsible for anywhere from $0 to the balance of an account. The amount of consumer liability is based on when a missing debit card account is reported missing. "If you fail to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days after your statement is mailed to you, you risk unlimited loss," warns the FTC. "That means you could lose all the money in your account and the unused portion of your maximum line of credit established for overdrafts."

A Lot of Hassle: "Even if you get your money back, there's still a real hassle factor," says Detweiler. "The money is still out of your account and you still have bills to pay." Consumers could wait 2 to 3 months for a credit for an unauthorized purchase.

Lack of Credit Building: " You do nothing for your credit score by using a debit card," says Abagnale. "You've been using this debit card and haven't done a thing to establish your credit."

You Pay Your Bank To Use Your Money: The $5 ATM fees and $9 monthly fees to maintain an account add up. "You're spending your own money and the bank is still charging you a fee," says Abagnale.

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