Greensboro, NC -- Here's a question you probably hear often: Credit or debit? Swiping a debit card instead of a credit might help keep you out of debt, but in some places it could be putting you at added risk of losing all your money.
When an ID thief has your debit card information they've popped open the ultimate cookie jar of your bank account and can literally empty it out. One expert we talked with via Skype says that means you won't have access to your money while you wait for your bank to reimburse you for the thief's fraud. That can take a week, a month or sometimes more.
"If your bank account's completely drained, some people are unable to pay their monthly expenses, pay their rent and buy food for their family until they get their money put back in their bank account," said Eva Velasquez of the ID Theft Resource Center.
Thieves most often get your debit card number when you use it to buy things on the Internet and when you use it at the gas pump - which is where your credit card comes in. If a thief steals your credit card number, they can make a bunch of charges against your credit line, but you're protected two ways. First, you'll most likely be reimbursed. Second, this doesn't affect your bank account in any way, meaning that cookie jar of money you use every day is untouched.
While nothing is completely safe -- the expert advice is use your debit for face to face buying only and credit card for anything else.