In today’s age of electronic commerce it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s the best way to make purchases that don’t require cash. Should you charge it on your credit card, or should you use your debit card and not have to worry about paying it back? For many people the convenience of a debit card is the deciding factor. Also, they feel safe knowing their information is protected by the pin code that they set up when the card was activated. But there are some things that most consumers may not know about the difference between debit card and credit card transactions. Things they should consider when making purchases.

  • Most places do not check IDs anymore when purchases are made using a card. So,anybody can swipe any card when making a purchase and becredit card relatively certain that they won’t need to prove their identity to finish the purchase.
  • A pin code does not have to be used when making a purchase with a debit card. Most card readers will give you the option of running your debit card as a credit card, making the need for a pin code authentication meaningless. You can tell if your debit card will allow this option if it has the Visa or Master Card logo on it.
  • Most credit card companies will give you 30 to 60 days to report fraudulent activity on your card. Since it is a charge account, no actual money has left your bank account and once you successfully dispute the fraudulent charges you will not be held responsible for them.
  • Most debit cards give the user only a 2 to 7 day window to report fraudulent charges. Also, since the card is attached to your bank account, the fraudulent transaction must be completed before the money can be refunded to your account. This process can take up to two weeks. In that time, overdraft charges may be incurred and will have to be disputed with the bank.

Yes, debit cards do offer many conveniences to consumers when making purchases. But those conveniences may leave you vulnerable to fraud and reduce your protections in case your information falls into the wrong hands. When making purchases follow these helpful tips:

  • Use credit cards to make purchases and transaction, especially online.
  • Do not use debit cards when making purchases online. All purchases with a debit card come directly from your bank account. If your debit card number is compromised online you only have a short amount of time to catch and report the fraud. Then, it can take several weeks to recover the money and put it back into your account.
  • Avoid carrying a debit card that carries the Visa/Master Card Logo. These cards can be used exactly like credit cards without the need of a pin code.
  • Use an ATM Only card to access your bank accounts. This card can only be used at ATMs and does require a pin code to access.

If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Anyone3 fundraising campaign.  For more information or to donate please visit