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Using Debit Cards Can Be Risky Business

[Aug 22, 2007.]


Summer 2007 may be remembered in economic circles as a time when new concerns were voiced about those handy debit cards that are appearing in just about everyone's wallets.

Research indicates that consumers are often opting to pay for their purchases with debit cards rather than credit cards. Consumers appear to appreciate the convenience which debit cards offer—in fact, many consider them to be just as convenient as cash. With debit cards, consumers can also avoid the sticker shock that can occur when the monthly credit card bills arrive.

However, financial experts this summer are saying that many consumers don't realize the risks associated with debit cards. For instance, when consumers use debit cards at automatic teller machines, they may face additional fees. They may even encounter additional charges when they make purchases at stores.
In addition, consumers may find it difficult to recover their losses if their debit cards end up in the hands of con artists.

Also, what many consumers fail to realize is that it's possible to become overdrawn on your bank account using a debit card, just as you would if you wrote bad checks. Consumers who use debit cards also don't have the luxury of issuing a "stop payment" if a good or service fails to meet their expectations.

Reports of debit card fraud are also on the rise at supermarkets and gas stations. Investigating fraud by debit card can be a time-consuming process and can tie up a consumer's funds for a couple of weeks or more.

Financial experts say that those consumers who do not carry balances on their credit cards are better off using credit cards than debit cards because of the security involved. In addition, by using credit cards, you can take advantage of numerous rewards programs. The bottom line, say experts, is that you should proceed with caution when using debit cards.

Julie Ann Amos
August 22nd 2007

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