Tips to Protect Debit Cards

Despite the convenience and popularity of debit cards, there is a risk of fraud or theft.

In fact, it's just as important to protect your debit card as you would protect cash, credit cards and checks. Debit cards are subject to a unique threat, called "skimming." Skimming occurs when thieves set up a device that captures the magnetic stripe and keypad information from ATM machines and gas pumps.

Did you know that the only difference between a "credit" and "debit" purchase with your First Hope Bank MasterCard® Debit Card is that you are signing your name rather than inputting your PIN? If given the choice, wouldn't it make sense to sign your name rather than possibly expose your PIN to others? Choosing to sign your name and not entering your PIN prevents retailers from storing PINs unnecessarily in their customer database. Selecting "credit" doesn't affect how the transaction posts to your account. However, it could mean the difference in your financial safety.

To avoid becoming a victim of debit card fraud, consider these tips:

  • Check your bank account often by utilizing online banking and E-Statements. Make sure all payments are yours. If you do not have online banking, check your paper statements promptly when they arrive.
  • Contact your bank immediately if your card is lost, stolen or subject to fraudulent use.
  • Keep a record (but not in your wallet or purse) of card numbers, PINs, expiration dates and telephone numbers for banks so you can contact the issuing bank easily in cases of theft.
  • Memorize your PIN number. Do not use any part of your birth date, address, phone number or Social Security number.
  • Never store your PIN with your card, and do not make it available to others.
  • Keep your receipts. You'll need them to check your statement. If they have your account number on them, tear up or shred receipts before throwing them away.
  • Mark through any blank spaces on debit slips, including the tip line at restaurants, so the total amount cannot be changed.
  • Know your limits. Many issuers limit daily purchases and withdrawals for your protection.
  • Do not use an ATM if it looks suspicious—it could be a skimming device.
  • Be wary of those trying to help you, especially if an ATM "eats" your card—such people may be trying to steal your card number and PIN.
  • Do not give your PIN number to anyone over the phone. Thieves often steal the cards and then call the victim for their PIN, sometimes claiming to be law enforcement or the issuing bank.

For your security, First Hope Bank utilizes a fraud monitoring service to give you added peace of mind that we are monitoring spending patterns to identify possible theft. These services are free with each First Hope Bank MasterCard® Debit Card.

For more tips and information on using your debit card wisely, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Web site at