Friday, August 26, 2011

Practical Payments Tidbits

I like to give my first year contracts students a bit of practical knowledge about commercial transactions and consumer issues whenever possible. So, I've taken to putting up articles on the overhead screen at the beginning of class. Sometimes we have a little discussion, other times right onto contracts doctrine. Today, we began class with this little MSN news piece on 5 places to never use your debit card!

  • Rental or security deposits. This goes to the heart of what a debit card does, it takes money from your checking account. Using a credit card for car rental and similar transactions, these deposits are not charged so you are not out the money at the time.

  • Restaurants and bars. Just to much risk of fraud with so many people around. And, your card is likely to leave your presence leading to a greater possibility of card skimming. Again, the money comes out of your checking account, so harder to get it back in the event of theft compared to handling potential losses on credit cards. Or use cash . . .

  • Regular payments. What companies do you really want to have your financial information permanently on file with an ability to hit your checking account at will. Consumers have greater rights under the Truth in Lending Act if you use your credit card. Alternatively, pay them on an automated payment out of your checking account yourself. Of course, some businesses do demand the regular payment system and you might have to give in if it is the only way to secure a wanted service.

  • Wi-Fi hot spots. Quite simply, unsecured access to your account numbers.

  • Any retail outlet where you choose the "credit" option. This one doesn't bother me, but the article mentions the less rapid clearing and risk of overdrafts as reasons not to use the debit card.

For my part, it is always nice to see a little consumer education on a regular basis. The big reminder here is while debit cards look like credit cards, the attributes are not the same. Consumers are wise to keep this in mind.


No comments: