SCE Federal Credit Union Debit Card Do's and Don'ts

Jul 24, 2012 | Tips

A debit card is an excellent tool to keep cash at your fingertips without carrying around a stack of Benjamins, but when used incorrectly, debit cards leave you susceptible to identity theft, fraud and ATM withdrawal fees.

The number of identity thefts in the US last year increased by 13 percent – affecting more than eight million citizens, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. A portion of these thefts are attributed to increased debit card use – Visa reports they have more than 390 million debit cards currently in circulation.

“The moment you hand your debit card to a waiter, bartender or store clerk, you’re entrusting them with your financial information, making you vulnerable to theft,” said Lilia Rojo, SCE Federal Credit Union Vice President of Operations. “Yes, debit is convenient and quick, but there’s a level of risk that accompanies it. We urge people to regularly examine their monthly statements for fraudulent charges and analyze the locations at which they use them. This helps mitigate risk.”

How to properly use debit cards

SCE Federal Credit Union offers these tips for safely integrating debit card use into your daily life:

Check your account activity regularly

Look for any suspicious charges or transactions and report them immediately. Under federal law, your liability for fraudulent debit charges can be up to $500 if the charge isn't disputed within two business days.

Keep a record of your card numbers

Keep a record of your card numbers and expiration dates in a secure, accessible place. This allows you to report and cancel missing or stolen cards as rapidly as possible.

Know your account balance

Debit cards withdraw money directly from your account. If your balance is depleted and a transaction is made, you can incur overdraft fees at most banks. However, SCE Federal Credit Union offers free overdraft protection, which shields your wallet if you’re overdrawn.

Only use your card at trusted merchants

Never give your card information over the phone or through e-mail to anyone you don’t know.

Use caution when paying for large online purchases

When a purchase is made with a debit card, money is immediately transferred from your checking account. This gives you less leverage to dispute any purchased item(s) that prove defective or damaged upon arrival. Credit cards are a much safer choice for these purchases.

Save receipts from debit transactions

Keeping a paper trail of transactions can help verify your account activity, but make sure to properly destroy them – burn, shred or tear into small pieces – once they are no longer needed. Additionally, SCE Federal Credit Union offers online banking, which allows you to safely access your account instantly from any web device.

Protect your PIN number

Don’t write it on your card, keep it in your wallet or purse or give it to your friends. Additionally, when choosing your PIN, don’t use an obvious number combination like your birthdate or phone number.

Avoid withdrawal fees

Avoid withdrawal fees by using SCE Federal Credit Union approved ATMs. We have a network of more than 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs across the country.


Debit cards are a great way to prevent budget blowouts, since they don’t allow you to spend money you don’t have. SCE Federal Credit Union offers customers a variety of checking options – Green Checking, Free Checking and Youth Checking – which all include a free Visa debit card. Contact an SCE Federal Credit Union financial services consultant for additional information.