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I recently had my debit card skimmed and about $300 in fradulent transactions emptied from my checking account. Eventually I will get the money back (10 days? 30 days? we'll see), but I couldn't help but realize that this might have been prevented if my debit card didn't have a Mastercard logo on it (the thief did not get my PIN).

Since I rarely use my debit card in credit transactions (I normally use a PIN), I called my bank to ask for a card without a Mastercard logo, just like the ATM card I got 15 years ago with my very first checking account. The gal on the phone all but laughed at the request.

Are there any banks that actually offer this?

  • You're asking about the USA I guess. – ChrisW Jul 14 '11 at 2:37
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    I haven't found one. Solution: Carry cash & credit cards only. – duffbeer703 Jul 14 '11 at 3:02
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Couple years ago i asked Citibank to replace my bank/credit card with ATM Only card without any issues.

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About 3 years ago when I last opened a checking account at a local credit union in Wichita, Kansas, I was given an PIN-only ATM card immediately when I signed up--I had to wait several days for my VISA/Debit card to show up in the mail. I believe this PIN-only card I received only worked at ATMs, and not for Debit transactions at retailers.

I have also very recently (in the last 2 months) seen a friend use what I believe was a PIN-only debit card that does work at retailers, but issued by a Mexican bank. (I can ask my friend for more information about this if you're interested.)

You may also be able to ask your bank to disable credit transactions from your account. Your card would still be a VISA debit card, but non-PIN transactions would presumably be denied. I do know that my bank makes a distinction between debit and credit transactions (I earn $0.05 cash back on every credit transaction over $20.00--whoop-de-do!--but not for debit transactions). So clearly the banks can tell the difference between the two types of transactions, so it would stand to reason that they could reject one type, and not the other. But I have no idea if any banks will actually offer that service.

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Most US banks have at this point moved to issuing check cards instead of ATM cards that work via both the ACH system and one of the major credit card processors.

You might be able to find a smaller local bank that issues plain ATM cards, however odds are that this truly will be just an ATM card and would not work for POS.

Unfortunately you will probably have to wait until the US adopts the European system that requires a pin for credit transactions.

Actually you might want to rethink your way of using your credit/debit card. Every time you type in your PIN someone could be observing this number. There have been several cases of skimmers using tiny ccd cameras mounted above rigged POS terminals to capture both the card information and the PIN. They then use this information to clone your card and access your account.

So you see the security of a debit card over a credit card is very slight and perhaps non existent when you further consider that store clerks often check the ID of credit card users but do not check ID for debit card transactions. Further, your risk is much greater with debit card transactions as by law you cannot be held responsible for more than $50 of fraudulent credit card charges which is not the case for debit card transactions.

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    You're absolutely right that PINs are not perfect, but I disagree that the security they offer is "very slight". In my case, and in a LOT of these skimming incidents, my PIN was not compromised. – Josh Hinman Jul 14 '11 at 21:31
  • That $50 limit applies to credit cards, but I don't think it applies AT ALL to debit cards, even when they run through the system as a Visa/MC transaction. But it's also kind of a moot point since most banks offer protection above and beyond what's legally required. – Josh Hinman Jul 14 '11 at 21:37
  • @Josh Hinman, you are right I just think I phrased that wrong. I meant that when your card supports both signature and pin based transactions, using your pin to make transactions increases the chances that your pin could be compromised. Since in either case a clone of your card can be used for signature transactions those are not at issue. However even a minor increase in the odds of your pin being compromised increases your risk since when making a purchase a thief will be less likely to be forced to show ID if using a PIN transaction than a signature. I hope that logic makes sense. – Justin Ohms Jul 15 '11 at 2:57
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    Just a quick note on the European chip and pin cards. The chip makes the card very hard to clone and then use in a European credit card machine. To the extent the cloned European cards are often used in the US. – Ian Aug 8 '11 at 16:26
  • What do you mean by check card? The Wikipedia page is a disambiguation and I don't know which one you mean. – gerrit Mar 1 at 8:57

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