Is It Time For All Of Us To Start Using Prepaid Debit Cards?
About three weeks ago I looked at my bank account online and noticed a charge from my business account that I immediately knew I didn’t make. I knew it wasn’t mine because it was at a beauty store in Florida and I live in New York state. I called my bank and they put a hold on the account for that card, set me up to get a new card and began an investigation into that charge. Three days later I got my new card in the mail, a couple days after that they reversed the charge off my account, and all was right with my world again.
Last week my wife decided to check her account online and found that her account had been hit up for 7 withdrawals from the same company (not the same as my company, but 7 from one company) for the same amount. Luckily, the bank had only cleared the first two and had frozen the other 5, pending them with the intention of calling my wife the next day, but she beat them to the punch. Her bank did the same thing mine did, sent her a new card and started an investigation. The next day she went to her bank and they reversed all the charges.
The scary thing about this is that neither of us can even remember where we might have made a purchase where someone could have gotten our card number from. For me, I know I’d purchased something on eBay, bought gas and bought something at my local grocery store. For her… it could have been anywhere.
It’s getting to the point where the safest thing to do might be to start investing in prepaid credit card. However, that comes with its own set of issues where you could be draining the card by believing it’s the same as using your bank’s debit card… if only…
For instance, you can get a free card at most places but they’ll charge you an activation fee. It’s not all that much normally, but if you have a printer at home and you know that the actual expense is in buying ink constantly you can imagine how your debit card can go.
For instance, you get to determine how much money you put on a card, which can protect your purchases. There’s a fee for that. You can check your balances online; there’s often a fee for that. You can use it as an ATM card; there’s a fee for that. Also, there are cards that charge monthly fees; ugh!
The only blessing you get is that almost none of them charge you a fee for actually using the card, like you get when you use a gift card. Well, that and not having anything more than whatever you put on the card taken from you if someone figures out how to steal your number.
We’re living in a scary time now. Although this is the first incursion on my account this year, last year I got 3 different cards for data intrusion at major retail stores (none affected me) but years ago my personal account got hacked and I had $1,800 taken from my account… although that happened while I was asleep and the perpetrators were in London, so the bank shut it down and, once again, I got my money back.
Be careful with your cards, both credit and debit. If you’re seriously thinking about getting a prepaid debit card, my advice would be to shop around for a good deal. Or better yet, see if you can get a card that has a data chip in it, as many retailers are going to this type of swiping mechanism because, at least for now, it’s more secure.