Debit cards look like credit cards. And you use them like a credit card. But the National Consumers League found most consumers don't understand there's a big difference between them.
TINA ADAMS: "I was balancing my checkbook out. This was last saturday and I noticed some charges that were not on there and when I checked over to my check card authorizations I noticed Match.com had billed me twice for their membership and I've never even been on their website."
Her bank account printout shows somebody used her debit card to remove than $47 from her bank account twice. She immediately contacted her bank.
ADAMS: "They told me to cut up by debit card, that I would receive a new one within 7 to 10 days. I don't want another one. If this is what I've got to go through and I'm going to be afraid and paranoid to use it I don't want another one."
Adams is not the only one this has happened to. She found this report on the internet in which someone wrote that this has happened to them. Somebody stole their debit card and also joined Match.com.
ADAMS: "Nobody ever thinks it could happen to them. I'm here to tell you it happened to me and I don't want to mess with them anymore."
Fortunately, Adams did not incur any overdraft charges-- and her bank returned the money. But she says she's shocked how easy it is to raid your bank account.
ADAMS: "You call and order a pizza. If you use your debit card you give that number over the phone to whoever is there. AND THEY DON'T NEED A PIN NUMBER. No, nothing. THE MONEY COMES RIGHT OUT OF YOUR ACCOUNT. Right out of the account."
Fortunately, Adams checks her bank account regularly so she spotted the fraudulent transactions as soon as they were posted. But if you fail to notice it for several weeks, you could have a hard time getting your money back.
Of course if you use a credit card you can dispute a fraudulent charge without ever losing any money. Also consider an ATM only card which requires a pin number and allows you to get cash from a machine.