Consumer Alert: 4 places to avoid using your debit card

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PITTSBURGH - Cash is becoming obsolete but not all plastics are created equal.

Some swipes have an added security risk.

“If somebody steals your information, your credit card company will protect you.  Debit cards, not as much,” said consumer expert and Duquesne University marketing professor Audrey Guskey.

Because of that added risk, Guskey recommends four places you should avoid using your debit cards, including gas stations.

“There are different devices that someone who's pumping gas across from you can get that information,” she warned.

Criminals use devices known as skimmers.

They can be attached to gas pumps and you’d never know.

Last year, a group of men were caught stealing $2-million using skimmers at gas pumps throughout the South.

Next on the list: restaurants.

Guskey said waitstaff can take your card of out of your sight and then “it's very easy for them to copy your card and gather all of the information.”

She also recommends using cash for small purchases at stores instead of your card.

And at number four, stick to a credit card when shopping online.

Some banks even offer virtual credit cards which you use once and throw away.

“With a debit card, if people are getting your information, they can literally go to an ATM machine and take the money out immediately,” she said. 

If your debit card number is stolen, time is not on your side.

According to the electronic fund transfer act, you could still be responsible for up to $500 taken from your account, and that’s if you report it within two days.

If you wait longer, and you could lose all of the money withdrawn from your account.