Here is how to stay out of trouble.
1. DO NOT USE YOUR ATM CARD ANYWHERE, EXCEPT AT THE BANK THAT ISSUED IT IN THE LOBBY.
2. Feel free to use your credit card anywhere, AS LONG AS YOU CHECK THE MONTHLY STATEMENT AND DISPUTE ANY CHARGES.
3. Anywhere especially seedy, PAY CASH or use a Green Dot Card from Walmart money card loaded with the exact amount.
4. Only use checks for re-occuring variable bills like phone, gas, electric so an error can no clean out your bank account. Some phone cable and phone companies occasionally have problems with sending customers erroneous $1000 monthly bills.
5. Do not use online banking. Make sure you have it turned off.
6. Make sure you have an ATM only card that can not be used as a debit card. This means it only works at ATM machines.
7. Setup all fixed cost bills, mortgage, car, insurance, student loan for auto pay so you don't need to use online banking or write a check.
8. Do not let money pile up in your PayPal account. Paypal is not a real financial institution and can play games with your money and you have very little protection.
9. Bank with a real bank, an 800 lb. gorilla like Chase that has 24-hour fraud people.
10. Keep a copy or scan of all documents/cards in your wallet. If you wallet gets stolen you can quickly cancel everything, instead of trying to figure out what was in your wallet.
11. Pay your credit card off EVERY MONTH, no exceptions. 20% interest is for suckers. If you can't control yourself, set you limit for what you are able to pay. NEVER carry credit card debt. NEVER.
The safest forms of payment are:
1. CASH / Walmart Green Dot Money Card
2. Credit Card
4. ATM Card
Why do I make these recommendations?
1. Cash can't be hacked.
2. VISA provides you with protections to dispute charges. That means if you get hit with a charge, you can dispute it and during the dispute period you aren't out any money, unlike bank fraud. If a vendor is getting a lot of chargebacks from VISA, they will figure out they have a hole in their system and fix it or go out of business.
3. Your ATM card connects directly to real money. If you have Autopay setup and someone hacks your ATM/Debit card, you could be in a world of hurt because your account might get emptied out and there would not be any funds available to pay your bills. This is a bad, expensive situation.
4. Your checks have a magnetic toner on the bottom with your bank routing number and bank account number. With these numbers, someone could possibly access your account. Only use checks for variable payments like phone, gas, electric.
5. If you need to buy something that you don't want associated with you directly, get a Walmart Green Dot Card. This is great in case you are in need of a burner phone or other untraceable payment. By law you are supposed to register these cards but Green Dot will still allow you to use it but will deny you a personalized card. Many illegal/undocumented immigrants use these cards. These cards can be sketchy and prone to fraud, so buy it, load it, and spend it as soon as possible.
If you have any questions, let me know and I will check this thread again. Be smart. Guard your privacy, credit score, and your hard earned money.