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5 Tips For Using Your Debit Card Securely

By Lori Van Bemmel, Lead Deposit Operations Specialist


Are you shopping online more often? Paying with your debit card at stores, restaurants, and gas stations when you’re out and about? Debit cards offer convenience, but they must also be used wisely to protect your data and checking account from fraud. Check out our 5 best tips for using your debit card information securely when making online and in-person purchases.

Photo: Man using cell phone and laptop
Text: As with any good financial habit, keeping track of your transactions is the first step to ensure that you are practicing safe debit card usage.

Look for the ‘s’ in https.

When shopping online or logging into your bank account, make sure your web browser displays a padlock icon before the web address, as well as https instead of just http. The ‘s’ stands for secure and the padlock also means that the connection is secure.

A URL that begins with https means that the site is encrypted by an SSL certificate, which protects your sensitive information such as login credentials and payment information as it travels from the website to a server. Encryption helps prevent cyber criminals from accessing and stealing your personal data.

Also known as a trust seal, the padlock icon means the website is working with a security partner to protect you from hackers, malware, fraud, and more. You can even click on the trust seal to verify its authenticity.

Two other steps you can take to validate a website’s authenticity and security include:

  • Look for a privacy policy. Valid websites should have a privacy policy that explains how your data is collected, used, and protected by the website.
  • Find the Contact Us page. Authentic companies should have a physical address, phone number, and email contact information on their website. 

Read the fine print. 

As more of our lives are lived online, there are more subscription services to sign up for. From fitness and meditation apps to television and music streaming services, not to mention good old-fashioned newspaper and magazine subscriptions, it’s not uncommon to look at your bank account statement and wonder where these monthly $10 or so charges came from. Did a fraudster steal your debit card information?

You may have simply not realized that you were signing up for a service that auto renews or maybe you stopped using the service and forgot you were still subscribed. This is why it’s a good practice to read the fine print carefully before signing up for something, especially a free trial or introductory period. It’s also helpful to sit down every few months or so to review your current subscriptions and cancel anything you’re no longer using. 

Photo: man on the phone
Text: If you lose your card, be sure to report it immediately by calling our 24-hour customer service number at (866) 546-8273.

Treat your debit card like cash.

Would you leave cash in your car, on your desk at work, in a jacket pocket, or anywhere else it could easily be lost or stolen? Your debit card is connected to your checking account, so it is like cash. If someone steals the card itself or the card information, any fraudulent charges come out of your bank account balance. Even if you’re able to recover the stolen money, there will be a wait between when it’s taken out and when it goes back in, and you might need the money for bills during that period.

Protect your debit card by keeping it in your wallet or another safe place and making sure you put it away after every use. Memorize your pin number so you don’t have to write it down. If your card does get lost or stolen, contact your local Peoples Bank location immediately or, if it’s after hours, call our 24/7 customer service center at (866) 546-8273.  

Monitor your checking account activity.

If fraud does occur, the earlier you catch it the better. Instead of waiting for your monthly statement, enroll in Online Banking to access your account anytime and check recent transactions. You can also set up balance and transaction alerts so you know what’s going on with your accounts. And you can keep tabs on your checking account from anywhere with our Mobile Banking app.

If you spot a charge you don’t recognize, contact Peoples Bank as soon as possible. If it is after business hours, turn off your debit card immediately through our Mobile Banking app. If the transaction was unauthorized and the merchant is unable to refund the purchase, notify us immediately via the Conversations tool in our Online and Mobile Banking platforms, or by calling or visiting any of our locations.

Photo: paying with a debit card
Text: Always be aware of your surroundings when entering your PIN to ensure that no one is watching.

Avoid non-bank ATMs

Card skimming, which means inserting a camera or scanner to capture card numbers, is on the rise at independent ATMs and gas pumps. Be wary of inserting your card into an ATM or pump pay center that appears tampered with. As much as possible, stick to using Peoples Bank ATMs and our Privileged Status ATM Locations. Pay inside the gas station instead of checking out at the pump. Learn how to spot ATM fraud so you can avoid falling victim to it.

Learn more about Debit Cards from Peoples Bank!

Get a free Peoples Bank Mastercard® Debit Card when you open a checking account at any of our Northwest Iowa locations or Southwest Minnesota location. We print our debit cards in-house, allowing you to select your PIN and take your active debit card home with you in just a few minutes. Learn about our Fraud Center, an alert system that notifies you of potential fraud, and our two ID TheftSmart™ protection memberships. As always, you can contact our Customer Care Center with any questions!


Photo: Man looking at debit card and using phone
Text: Learn more about opening a checking account at Peoples Bank to start using your debit card today!