Debit Card Scams: How to Spot, Report & Recover

Debit Card Scams

Consumers must be on the lookout for a few different types of debit card scams, as most of us use our plastic at both the ATM and a merchant’s point of sale. And with both law enforcement techniques and data security measures becoming more and more advanced, financial criminals are forced to become increasingly sophisticated.

As a result, debit card scams now run the gamut from physical robbery and ATM “skimming” to massive spam campaigns and advanced online attacks targeting the payment terminals of large national retailers. But that’s not to say that we consumers are defenseless.

Dealing With Debit Card Fraud & Lost Or Stolen Cards

Debit Card Fraud

U.S. merchants and card issuers incur roughly $11 billion in annual credit and debit card losses as a result of fraud and issuers spend another 6.5 billion on fraud prevention measures. Consumers, on the other hand, are relatively shielded from the financial repercussions of payments fraud, as card networks give us $0 liability guarantees on credit card purchases and signature debit card transactions.

Lesser guarantees apply to PIN debit card transactions, however. But, regardless of whether you’re using a credit card or a debit card, the question of how to report and deal with potential fraud still remains. We’ll help answer that question and further analyze the repercussions of debit card fraud below.

Debit OR Credit: When To Use Each

 Credit Debit

Consumers have two distinct decisions to make in regard to the debit or credit conundrum. The first is which, if either, type of card you should have in your wallet. We recommend having both, considering the credit building benefits and rewards superiority of credit cards as well as the convenient access to cash provided by a debit card.

The second question one must answer is which type of card to use when making a given purchase. This is far less straightforward, as the decision is typically contextual – depending on the amount of the purchase or the particular merchant that you’re dealing with, for example. With that being said, we recommend using your credit card whenever you can, while only pulling out your debit card for low-dollar purchases and when you need cash. Credit cards offer superior fraud protection and the possibility of rewards, after all.

Debit Card vs. Credit Card: Which is Better?

Debit Card vs. Credit Card

Debit cards and credit cards are two of the most commonly-used financial products at our disposal. But, despite sharing a number of similarities, these two forms of monetary plastic are quite different and should thus serve distinct roles within your financial arsenal.

In order to help you fully grasp these inherent distinctions, we’ve compiled a complete breakdown of how these titans of everyday money management stack up against one another. The short answer, however, is that credit cards are the preferable option for people who can use them responsibly due to credit’s supremacy in terms of credit building, rewards earning, financing capabilities and fraud protections.

How to Pay Loans, Credit Cards & Mortgages with Credit

Pay Credit Card or Loan with Credit Card

Yes, you can pay loans and lines of credit with a credit card, but we strongly advise against doing so unless it is part of a plan that will save you money.  There are three primary ways to turn this into a money-making venture: 1) if you will be able to earn enough rewards to outweigh any associated processing costs; 2) if you can take advantage of an attractive 0% balance transfer deal that will expedite your timeline to debt freedom; or 3) you are at risk of becoming delinquent on the card whose bill you plan to pay.

A notable secondary benefit for those contemplating using plastic to pay down a mortgage or auto loan is the fact that you would be effectively transforming secured debt into unsecured debt, thereby protecting your assets in the event of bankruptcy. What’s more, it’s important to note that while it is indeed possible to either pay one credit card with another or use plastic to cover the cost of a loan, doing so isn’t necessarily as simple as plugging your card number and expiration date into a website.

Do Student Loans Affect Credit? All You Need to Know

Do Student Loans Affect Credit

Yes, student loans do affect your credit standing. In fact, there is little difference between the credit-building capabilities of a student loan and a standard personal loan. Your lender will report account information to the major credit bureaus each payment period, thereby adding positive information to your file and thus boosting your score – assuming you pay as agreed.

There are, however, certain circumstantial differences that set student loans apart from other types of loans and lines of credit. For example, while the fact that you have a student loan will be noted on your major credit reports during school, federal student loans don’t begin reporting payment information to the major credit bureaus until you have graduated and the deferment period ends. To learn more about building credit with a student loan, continue reading below.

When to Cut Up a Credit Card & How to Dispose of One

Cut Up Credit Cards

There are two main reasons to cut up a credit card. For starters, you may need to switch to new plastic if your card is damaged, about to expire or it is being updated by the issuer. The other primary rationale for casting away your credit card is to remove temptation. This is an admirable and financially sound step to take, but some people may be better served by cancelling their accounts rather than simply taking a pair of scissors to their plastic.

In any instance, it is important to follow the proper protocols so you do not end up in hot water with your credit card company, harming the environment or opening a door to fraudsters.

Credit Repair Companies: Best Ones, Scams & More

Credit Repair

There is no quick fix for credit problems. In fact, there is very little you can pay a so-called credit repair company to do that you cannot easily do yourself for free.

That’s why companies purporting the ability to improve, repair or “fix” people’s credit are generally regarded as scams or poor value propositions. They’re either shady through-and-through, promising things they’re not legally able to provide, or they’re simply overcharging for minimal work that actually makes for the perfect DIY project. After all, your top priorities at this point in your credit career should be saving as much as possible, making sure your credit and loan accounts are in good standing and never missing a single monthly minimum payment.

Line of Credit vs. Credit Card: Difference, Cost & More

Line of Credit vs. Credit Card

Lines of credit and credit cards are two very similar types of financial products that help consumers, small business owners and even large corporations access borrowed funds on an as-needed basis. In order to help you better understand the differences that do exist between a line of credit and a credit card as well as the roles each can serve in your financial life and how to choose between them, we’ve compiled a complete comparison below.

If you are interested in learning more about credit cards, lines of credit or how credit limits are set, we have more detail in our respective guides on the topic.

Maxed Out Credit Card: Tips, When It Makes Sense & More

Maxed Out Credit Card

Maxing out a credit card means you have used all of your available credit and must make a payment in order to restore spending power.

Potential credit score damage is the most serious concern resulting from a maxed out credit card, as credit utilization – the ratio of your available credit and your consumed credit – accounts for a significant portion of the Amounts Owed segment of your credit score, which itself amounts to about 15% of your overall score. There are no direct costs associated with maxing out your credit card, but if doing so is a sign of overextending your finances, credit utilization is the least of your worries.

Your Credit Card Receipt: Everything You Need To Know

Credit Card Receipt

Our wallets are full of them. They’re scattered all over our cars, and we find them stashed in our pockets — and no, we aren’t talking about dollar bills or even loose change. We’re referring to credit card receipts. Despite many regarding them as obsolete paperwork, receipts have a clearly defined role in the current payments landscape.

We’ll go into more detail about that below, as well as explain what receipts to keep, whether or not you have to sign them, and tips for avoiding common mistakes.

FICO Score: Range, What’s Good & Free Options


The Fair Isaac Corporation issues one of the most widely-used credit score – the FICO Scores. Your FICO Score commonly influences the credit card and loan terms you can qualify for, the insurance premiums you pay as well as your ability to rent an apartment or lease a car.

This score is essentially a three-digit representation of the information in your credit report and ranges from 300 (Bad) to 850 (Excellent). One of the most confusing things about FICO Scores is that numerous variations exist, including individual scores based on Experian, Equifax and TransUnion credit reports and others tailored to specific types of transactions – such as mortgages and auto loans.

How to Build Credit as a Student: Tips, Pitfalls & More

Student Build Credit

It is extremely important to begin building credit as a student. Your credit score is very valuable, dictating what loan and credit card terms you can get, the insurance premiums you pay, your ability to rent an apartment or lease a car and – perhaps most importantly – your eligibility for certain jobs, particularly those requiring a security clearance or entailing monetary responsibility. And, the best part is, everyone starts with a clean slate.

That’s actually a double-edged sword in that only two paths exist from your starting point:  up and down. You don’t want to take the latter route, as it would take you into bad credit territory and leave you facing an even steeper climb in your already uphill quest for financial success. Starting your credit career on the right foot, on the other hand, puts you in position to save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars after graduation.

VISA vs. MasterCard: Which Is Better?

Visa vs. Mastercard

Most people consider VISA and MasterCard to be interchangeable. And they’re pretty much right.  VISA and MasterCard are the largest card networks in the world, and instead of issuing credit cards – such as the likes of Bank of America and Capital One – they help merchants process payments and thereby influence where our credit and debit cards can be used. Cards on both networks are accepted in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Because of that, you should only incorporate card networks into your card comparison efforts if you’re torn between two offers. In other words, if two offers are identical in terms of rewards, rates and fees, then it’s appropriate to weigh the small differences that do exist between MasterCard and VISA.  Those differences come in the form of secondary benefits like travel protection, rental car insurance and extended warranties.

Credit Pulls: What Are Hard & Soft Inquiries?

Credit Pulls

As if there wasn’t enough confusion surrounding the topic of credit reports, credit inquiries – also commonly referred to as credit “checks” or ”pulls” – make things even more complex. That’s because there are two different types: hard inquiries and soft inquiries. And although both types are triggered by someone viewing your credit report, they have drastically different implications on your credit score. In addition to all of that, credit inquiries can also be perplexing because creditors have the option of viewing reports from multiple credit bureaus. But don’t worry. We’ll explain all of that and more below.

  1. Hard Inquiries vs. Soft Inquiries
  2. How to Dispute Credit Inquiries
  3. Tips for Minimizing Credit Score Damage

Pay Rent With a Credit Card: How To Do It, Cost & More

Pay Rent With Credit Card

Yes, you can pay your rent with a credit card. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Demos, an estimated 40% of middle to low-income households use plastic to pay for their rent, along with other basic living expenses. Many consumers also look to credit cards not only as a way to foot rent costs in the interim, but also due to the fraud protection plastic provides and the ability to supercharge rewards earnings.

But, does the fact that you can pay for rent using credit mean that you should? We’ll examine the pros and cons of doing so below, in addition to outlining the ways you can pay rent with and without a credit card.

Bankruptcy Exemptions: What You Can Keep

bankruptcy exemptions

One of the biggest questions bankruptcy filers have is what they can keep throughout the process — especially their house and car. Exactly what assets you can retain largely depends on whether you are filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and whether your property is classified as “exempt” or “nonexempt.”

Exempt means you may retain the asset (or its value), whereas nonexempt describes property you must surrender to your bankruptcy case trustee — the person who administers your case. Read on to learn what you can and cannot keep in bankruptcy, how auto and homestead exemptions work, and whether federal or state exemption laws apply to your case.

Credit Card Fraud: What It Is & How To Prevent It

Credit Card Fraud

Financial scammers – especially those who are tech-savvy – are thriving in our digital age. Nearly 70% more Americans were impacted by financial data breaches in 2012 than in 2010, according to CardHub research, and $94 million worth of credit card fraud was reported in 2012.

Credit card fraud can be classified into two different categories. One is a form of identity theft, which occurs when someone else impersonates you in order to open credit card accounts under your name. Alternatively, the other type happens when your credit card or card information is retrieved to make unauthorized purchases. Both are troublesome to resolve, so one should take steps to stay informed and to protect themself.

Pay Taxes with a Credit Card: Pros & Cons

Pay Taxes With Credit Card And Other Alternatives

The IRS does indeed accept payment by plastic – a fact that leads many people to wonder about the viability of paying their taxes with a credit card.

There are various arguments to be made both in favor of and against such a strategy, and we’ll do our best to lay them out below.

How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: A Step-by-Step Guide

Filing Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a daunting process for those who are going through it for the first — and hopefully last — time. But with adequate preparation and the proper guidance of a bankruptcy attorney, you can rest assured that the process will go without unexpected surprises.

Generally, the entire Chapter 7 process — from filing to discharge — will last between three and six months. It is a much swifter affair compared to the three- to five-year timeline of Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in which debtors reorganize their debts. In a typical Chapter 7 case, you will make only one trip to the bankruptcy court, during which you’ll attest to the truthfulness and accuracy of your bankruptcy petition. The case will end shortly after you receive your discharge, and all your qualifying debts will be wiped out.

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Our content is intended for general educational purposes and should not be relied upon as the sole basis for managing your finances. Furthermore, the materials on this website do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. If you have any legal questions, please consult an attorney. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.