You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Why You Should Never Use Your Debit Card Scammers are everywhere, and debit cards leave your business exposed.

By Gene Marks

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There's been a rash of debit card abuse in central Texas recently. The suspect — card skimmers at gas stations.

"Many debit card abuse cases have been reported after customers used the gas pumps," police at Copperas Cove, a city approximately one hour north of Austin reported. "In most cases, the victim used a card to purchase gas, and the card was later found to be compromised, possibly by a gas pump skimmer."

The problem certainly isn't limited to Copperas Cove. According to a Javelin Research report from last year, losses linked to both credit and debit cards cost banks, merchants and, in some cases, cardholders $16.9 billion in 2019.

Skimmers are a popular way for thieves to steal card numbers from gas pumps, ATMs and other machines that accept credit and debit cards. The skimmer is slipped into the card reader slot and once connected, it can not only steal the card number but also PINs and zip codes as they're entered. They're pretty tough to detect, and once a number and PIN is stolen it can be used to create counterfeit cards, make purchases over the phone and carry out other forms of identity theft, like setting up other accounts or loans in your name.

But skimmers aren't the only way people can steal card numbers. Online hackers frequently use "phishing" sites, fraudulent email solicitations and phony websites to grab this kind of information.

Related: Keep Your Business Fraud-Free With These 3 Steps

This is why you — nor your business — should not be using debit cards. Ever.

"Every time you use one, you put your money and your bank account at risk," former con artist and the subject of the Leonardo DiCaprio film Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale wrote on "I don't own one. I never have and I never will. I don't recommend them to anyone — not my family, not my friends, not you."

The reason why Abagnale and most IT experts I know avoid debit cards deals with cash flow. If a fraudster can compromise a debit card, that person can access your cash. He or she can drain you and your company's bank account. And then you're stuck chasing. If a criminal makes unauthorized use of your credit card, your cash is still in your account.

In either case, according to the Federal Trade Commission, your liability would be no more than $500 — and more than likely considerably less — depending on when you report the theft. But that would be little comfort to you while dealing with the headaches caused by insufficient funds and lack of working capital for your business, all while navigating your way through your bank's customer service department trying to restore your cash balances.

"If there's a large data breach (and you know that there will be) and a criminal does somehow get my credit card number and charges $1 million on it, I'm protected and my credit card company will cancel the card and send a new one within the next couple of days," Abagnale writes. "If the same thing happens and the criminals get my debit card information, however, I could lose the money in my bank account and have a difficult and lengthy-time recovering it."

So get rid of your personal and business debit card and use your credit card for everything else. Let the banks worry about their liabilities. You've got plenty of other things to worry about.

Gene Marks

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

President of The Marks Group

Gene Marks is a CPA and owner of The Marks Group PC, a ten-person technology and financial consulting firm located near Philadelphia founded in 1994.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

A Non-Profit Newspaper Published a Column Criticizing Facebook. Then Meta Blocked All of Its Posts.

Facebook's communications chief said that the posts were removed because of "a mistaken security issue."

Business News

A Look Inside the Company That Is Making $500 Million a Year Serving Italian Beef Sandwiches Made Famous by 'The Bear'

Portillo's CEO Michael Osanloo shares his secret to keeping hungry customers coming back again and again. (Hint: It requires a lot of napkins.)

Business News

Walmart Shoppers May Be Eligible for $500 After Settlement

Walmart shoppers who purchased weighted goods or bagged citrus in the U.S. or Puerto Rico from late 2018 through early 2024 might be eligible for a share of a $45 million settlement.

Business News

Total Solar Eclipse 2024 Live Feed: Where, When and How to Watch the 2024 Eclipse

Here's what to know about the total eclipse 2024 and a live stream from NASA.

Business News

Elon Musk Reveals When Tesla Will Release Its First Robotaxi

Tesla's CEO says the fully autonomous Tesla taxi is arriving soon — in 122 days.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.