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(1) If you don't want a debit card, demand a plain old ATM card.

(2) If you do want the convenience of a debit card, lower the risks:

-- Never use a risky debit card on the Internet. Only use a credit card for Internet transactions. In addition to greater legal liability protection with a credit card, you have greater legal protection if goods are defective or don't arrive.

-- Use a debit card only with merchants you trust. It is also a good idea never to let it leave your sight-- it's one thing to watch a clerk "swipe" it right in front of you at the cash register and hand it back to you. It's another story when you hand it off to a potentially unscrupulous waiter or waitress who could have an illegal card "skimmer" (the size of a pack of cards) in their pocket and copy your information after they walk away with it.

-- Just as you wouldn't use it on the Internet, don't use it to call info-mercial 800#s off the television. If you have a dispute over double-billing or products that don't arrive from a sleazy info-merchant, remember-- you'll be fighting to get your own money back, and that could take ten days or more of arguing with your bank.

(3) Complain to Congress! Urge Congress to enact legislation to change the Electronic Funds Transfer Act law so that debit card liability is legally the same as credit card liability. Not surprisingly, the banks oppose it. No matter what card you use, you should be equally protected.

Posted in Credit Cards on Mar 11, 2010