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Atms and Debit Cards: What You Need to Know

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ATMs and debit cards: What you need to know

If the distinction between ATM and credit card is clear enough to everyone, some uncertainty arises instead when we hear about "Debit Card", a definition certainly much less widespread than the first two. The question then arises: what is a debit card? And what differences does it have, if any, with the ATM?


What is Debit card:

Surprise: the debit card and the ATM are the same thing! almost. The debit card is in effect the classic payment card that provides for the immediate debit of the expenses to the account of the owner. However, it is now widely and erroneously called ATM Which is only the name of the first national debit circuit, managed by the Management Agreement of the Bancomat brand, and identifies only one of the existing circuits (the others are Maestro, managed by MasterCard, and V-Pay, managed by Visa).


Describe the characteristics: what they are

Having revealed this little “mystery”, let's see what the characteristics of a debit card are : this payment instrument is connected to a bank account or to a pre-loaded credit. In the latter case we must speak more specifically of rechargeable prepaid card, which due to the specificity of its operation does not require a current account to rely on (a feature that makes it particularly suitable for payments on the internet). Furthermore, the debit card does not allow payment in instalments and the expenses are charged at the same moment in which the payment is made.

ATM and Debit Cards

ATM and Debit Cards

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Credit and debit cards

  • Keep them in a safe place. Always keep your credit and debit cards in a safe place; never leave your card lying around in visible places at home or on your desk at work. Nobody, apart from you, should have access to the card.
  • Report lost or stolen cards. If your card is lost or stolen, notify your bank immediately. Many banks offer online resources to make it even easier to report a lost card.
  • Avoid writing your full card number on checks. If you use a check to pay your credit card bill, include only the last four digits of your card account number on your payment check.
  • Create strong passwords. When you're setting up your new cards, remember to create a strong and unique password for each account. Avoid using the same password for your bank account and online stores.

Chip cards

Chip cards are one more way to help prevent credit theft. The thumb-sized square of metal on your credit cards is a computer chip, which turns your credit card into a chip card and makes it almost impossible for hackers to clone credit cards . Unlike the magnetic stripe found on traditional credit cards, chip cards do not store sensitive information. Instead, each time the card is used, a unique transaction code is generated. If hackers intercept that transaction, they won't be able to use the code again.

As you get up to speed with chip cards, keep these five facts in mind:

  1. Insert, don't swipe: Instead of swiping across the magnetic strip, insert the chip card into the chip reader.
  2. More secure, but not foolproof: Although chip cards are more secure, they can also be compromised. If your physical card is lost or stolen, it can be used by someone else, as most cards only require a signature. Also, the credit card chip does not protect against online fraud, so your card can still be compromised for online purchases.
  3. They are slower: We have all become accustomed to the speed of swiping the card, but the chip reader takes longer. Expect to spend a few more seconds queuing at the checkout.
  4. You can use the magnetic tape as a backup: Although you should always use the chip reader, not all stores have it installed or activated yet. If they don't, chip cards also have a magnetic stripe that you can use.
  5. The liability for fraud does not change for the consumer, but it does for the companies that issue the credit cards. If there are fraudulent transactions on your credit card, with a chip card you have the same fraud protections you had before (you may have to pay up to $50 for those transactions, but you won't always be charged).

How can operations be performed

Through the debit card it is possible to carry out various operations at ATMs , such as withdrawing money, consulting the balance and statement of your bank account, paying money or checks, paying various bills (electricity , gas, Rai fees, etc.) the recharge of mobile phones or prepaid cards. The security of a debit card is guaranteed by the PIN (Personal Identification Number) code, usually of five digits, which must be entered together with the authentication of the card at the terminal through the magnetic strip on the same (or via chip and contactless technology ), to obtain authorization for the banking operation from the issuing institution.

PIN Security

  • Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) secret. Never share your PIN, even for convenience.
  • Change your PIN regularly. Most banks allow you to easily change your PIN online or over the phone.
  • Hide the PIN numbers that you have written. If you have to write down your PIN, do not keep it in your wallet, purse, or on the card itself.
  • Choose a secure PIN number. Avoid numbers and letters that can be easily identified or associated with you. Do not use your initials, date of birth, phone number, or any part of the card number.
  • Take precautions with other people. When you use an ATM, don't let others see your PIN, the type of transaction you're making, or how much money you're withdrawing.

ATM Security

  • Beware of people trying to help you with ATM transactions . If you feel that it is dangerous, or you feel that something is wrong, get out of there. It's usually not too hard to find another ATM.
  • Always have everything ready to make your transaction. Have your card with you when you approach the ATM. This will help you avoid wasting time searching through your bag or wallet.
  • Stay alert for fraud. Don't use an ATM that looks different than usual or that gives you options you're not familiar with or comfortable with. Some scammers actually plant unregistered ATMs to collect card numbers and PINs.
  • Avoid making large cash withdrawals .
  • Be careful when you withdraw the cash. Do not count or display any money received from the ATM.
  • Take all receipts with you.

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