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Debit cards are simply plastic cards that banks issue to their customers. But it is actually quite a technically smart piece of plastic, when it boils down to it. Actually it can get quite complicated which is natural in modern financial transactions. This type of card gives the holder the ability to make instant purchases while taking out the right balance from the cardholder's account with the bank. These cards are sometimes confused with credit cards and the terms are used interchangeably. The difference is that a debit card only lets the card owner pay for items or services bought based on the existing funds found on his or her account. The exact amount will be instantly subtracted. In the case of credit cards, that amount can be paid back later. Debit cards allow cardholders to buy products at commercial outlets which have automated machines for both debit and credit cards, or withdraw money at an automated teller machine or ATM of the bank where you have an account. Debit cards are found in just about all countries around the world. Debit and credit cards are so convenient that they have almost replaced checks in the U.S. This convenience though comes at a price. These cards are vulnerable to identity theft and banking fees that have a way of sneaking up on cardholders. To secure these cards, banks assign a personal identification number or PIN to each card. If a cardholder withdraws cash from an ATM or buys something from a store which has an automatic purchasing machine, the cardholder enters a PIN to verify his or her identity and right to use the debit card. When buying things online, a PIN may not be necessary, but cardholders must key in the security code found on the debit card's rear portion. It usually consists of three to four digits. Other security measures are photographs of a cardholder's face on the reverse side of the card, where the signature of the cardholder is also usually found. These security features are effective when the transaction is personal, but when used online a debit card runs the risk of being misappropriated by unauthorized persons. If someone gets hold of your card, all the information required for transactions is there on the web. Some stores don't even require a PIN for purchase when a debit or dual credit card is used. This is the reason that if your card is missing or if you notice that you were charged for purchases you didn't make yourself, you must immediately inform the bank that gave you the card. Accidental charges can also be placed on your card. This happens when you have more than one bank account linked like a savings and checking account. You could end up signing to transfer money from one account to another if you overdraw. Banks could charge you $20 in overdraft fees. If your bank has limits on particular transactions, you could also be charged for the excess. Like credit cards, debit cards are very useful. There is no need to carry around huge sums of


money to buy things that you want. This eliminates the danger of being robbed, but ironically, the danger of losing your money has metamorphosed into theft on the Internet. It is not as violent as being physically mugged and abused for the money in your wallet, but it is never easy losing funds in whatever form. The most secure way to protect your debit card is to never lose it or let another person even someone you know and trust use it. Constant vigilance is your weapon against having your card misused.

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The Dark Side of Debit Cards