Richardson says that, depending on their specific needs or worries, consumers can purchase additional identity theft protection from an outside company, such as Lifelock or TrustedID, which promise to reduce the chance of incurring fraudulent charges. McClary also points out that there are many smartphone banking apps that will send you automatic updates whenever your checking account balance changes. (And, as we’ve learned, the sooner you discover fraudulent debit charges, the less monetarily liable you are.) However, both he and Richardson suggest reducing your dependency on a checking account entirely.
“I always tell people that if they are going to use a debit card, they should consider only keeping a certain amount of money of it,” Richardson says. “That way, if a thief gets hold of it, they’ll only have access to minimal funds.”
Additionally, McClary suggests keeping “at least three months of net income” in a separate savings account, which can be accessed should life, your bank or Hakeen Simpson throw you a curveball. He also says that you can ask your bank to issue you a separate credit card, which can be used for large purchases and linked to your checking account. This way you can go in to your checking or savings accounts at the end of the day and move funds around to directly pay the bill as you go.
And, if you really must use your debit card like a credit card, you should refrain from using it for online purchases, since entering all of that personal information (card number, expiration date and security code) leaves your account more exposed. Beyond that, McClary agreed with the banks’ suggested plan of action.
“Check your accounts every hour or every 10 minutes if you have to,” McClary says. “Vigilence is the best defense.”
For sites you can use to minimize your exposure to identity theft, check out this MainStreet article “7 Great Sites for Preventing ID Theft.”
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