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By Heritage Bank on August 15, 2023
3 minute read

Is It Safe to Use Your Debit Card Online?

While using a debit card online can be convenient, it also comes with certain risks that may have you rethinking your online payment options. 

The reason? Debit cards are linked directly to your bank account, which means that if someone gains access to your card information, they can potentially drain its entire balance. 

Additionally, online retailers have varying degrees of security, potentially leaving your information vulnerable to hackers. It's essential to understand these risks and take steps to protect yourself when using your debit card online.

Why Do We Use Debit Cards?

A debit card offers a convenient way to manage your money. It allows you to make purchases and withdraw cash from ATMs without carrying large amounts of money. 

However, because your debit card is connected to your checking account, you must monitor your account regularly and report any suspicious activity to your bank as soon as possible to prevent debit card fraud.

What Is Debit Card Fraud?

Debit card fraud is when someone gains unauthorized access to your debit card information and uses it to make fraudulent purchases or withdraw money from your account without your knowledge or consent. This typically results in a loss of funds from your account, leading to significant financial and personal stress. 

Debit Card Fraud vs. Credit Card Fraud: Which Is Worse

Either scenario is stressful and a burden. However, debit card fraud might be arguably worse. Why? With credit card fraud, you can usually dispute the charges with your credit card company and not be held responsible for any fraudulent charges. 

Your credit card company will perform an investigation to ensure the activity was fraudulent and work to reimburse the credit back into your account.

With debit card fraud, however, the money is usually already gone from your account, and it may be harder to get it back, depending on your financial institution. 

Worse yet, if your debit card is compromised, paying bills and accessing your own money can become harder until the issue is resolved. 

How Can Someone Use My Debit Card without a Physical Card?

There are several ways someone could use your debit card without a physical card. Fraudsters just need your card number, security code, the name on the card and a Zip Code to make most online purchases with a stolen card. See a couple of common ways scammers obtain debit card info below:

      • If you make purchases online through an unfamiliar website, it might be scammer site set up to steal card details.
      • Many debit cards are hacked is through card skimming, where a device is placed on an ATM or payment terminal to steal your card information. 

What are some things you can do to help prevent debit card fraud?

If you need to use your debit card for an online purchase, here are 5 tips to help protect your information when online:

    1. Look for websites with a secure connection, indicated by a padlock icon in the address bar or a URL starting with "https" instead of "http."
    2. Use a payment method offering buyer protection, such as PayPal or Square, to help you dispute fraudulent charges. 
    3. Avoid using public Wi-Fi or shared computers when making online purchases, as these can increase the risk of your information being compromised.
    4. Check to ensure your banking institution offers fraud protection to help protect you from unauthorized purchases.
    5. Set up alerts for purchases made with your card to stay on top of any potential fraudulent activity.
      • Heritage Bank offers SecureAlerts for customers to customize the account activity they monitor and how they receive alerts.
      • In addition, the Heritage Bank app allows customers to track debit card charges in real time and report suspicious activity with a couple of taps.
      • CardGuard® is also available through the Mobile App, empowering customers to turn their debit card on and off with a few taps and place additional limitations on charges, including limiting the geographic area where charges can be made.

A Couple of Final Thoughts

Online is one of many places to take precautions regarding your debit card. If you use one to make in-store purchases, for instance, only use your card at reputable businesses and monitor your account regularly for suspicious activity.

You might also consider obtaining a credit card for online purchases, saving your debit card for in-person transactions. Ask your Heritage Banker about credit card options for customers.

Financial Protection You Can Count On

At Heritage Bank, we strive to protect the security and safety of our customers' financial information—online and in person! 

If you're not a Heritage Bank customer and would like to open an account, please stop by a location near you during regular business hours or open an account mobile banking options, you can visit or contact us with questions.





Published by Heritage Bank August 15, 2023