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The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina

Cyber Shopping? Leave Your Debit Card Offline

Tue, 11/20/2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. — As Cyber Monday rapidly approaches, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) is encouraging consumers to choose their payment method wisely when shopping online. Fraudsters are busy this holiday season looking for ways to steal your hard-earned money. Debit and credit cards are not created equal when it comes to the impact a thief can have on your pocketbook. Here are three reasons not to use your debit card when shopping online:


  • Debit cards are linked to bank accounts. A thief using your debit card number can drain your bank account before you even notice it. With a hijacked credit card number, while your available credit may be affected, your pocketbook is unchanged. Know where you want to shop? Set your budget and buy a gift card to avoid having to enter an account number online at all.
  • Stolen debit card? You may have to pay. When your debit card number is stolen, you must report unauthorized charges to the card issuer within sixty days after your account statement showing the errors is sent to you. Otherwise, you may have to pay. For stolen credit card numbers, you are not responsible for any unauthorized charges.
  • Credit cards have added protections. Federal law allows consumers to dispute credit card charges if there is a problem with a purchase; this is not the case for debit cards. Some credit cards companies also offer an additional warranty, return or other benefits.

If you decide to use your credit card, make sure to pay off your purchases before any interest accrues. No matter how you pay for presents this holiday season, monitor banking statements closely. See charges you didn’t make? Contact your financial institution immediately and follow-up in writing.
For more information on how to protect your personal information and pocketbook any time of year, visit and click “Consumer Resources.”

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1- 800-922-1594.