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Debit card tips to avoid identity theft and help consumer credit

May 23, 2011 Brian Bradley

Consumers who frequently use their debit cards should investigate the ins and outs of that little piece of plastic before swiping it, as it comes with a plethora of built-in pros and cons that they may know little about. And if consumers are looking to make high-profile credit decisions in the near future, it would be to their benefit if they examined all that their debit card has to offer. Particularly as identity verification grows increasingly important and identity theft more common, consumers, companies and bankers alike should be relieved to know that many banks offer built-in fraud and identity theft protection, and oftentimes the solutions are more simple than one would think. For example, many consumers only need to use the card with a signature rather than simply swiping it through with a PIN, Fox Business reported. "Most of these [protection] promises have limits and asterisks," said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director with U.S. Public Interest Research Groups, to the source. Another consideration that consumers should keep in mind - although, this does not mean they should spend frivolously - is that their debit card and checking account have no impact on their credit score and any]future credit decisions. Provided a banker doesn't do a hard pull against a consumer's credit history when he or she opens a checking account, the consumer report that links to the checking account is separate from their credit report, which reflects borrowing habits, Don Taylor reported in a separate article for the same source. As debit transactions do not necessarily come out of an account in "real-time," it is easy for a consumer to overdraft on their checking account. A day of shopping or a big-ticket purchase could potentially kill a person's credit, if the two were linked. Luckily, they are separate issues. However, in order to avoid this problem altogether, consumers should keep track of their buys either by receipt, checkbook or even by jotting purchases down on a notebook. That way, if they have yet to receive a statement, individuals won't be left in the dark when it comes to their true balance.