Debit card theft leaves one man with empty pockets

David Johnson

{}It's becoming all too common. Stolen identity, stolen credit cards, and wiped out bank accounts - something one Birmingham man learned about the hard way.{}A simple trip to the gas station - turned into a financial nightmare for David Johnson.{}"I just don't feel safe anymore," David Johnson, a victim said. "You feel like you just need to use cash everywhere you go, don't use your debit card. I don't feel safe at the pump getting gas anymore."Monday, he tried to fill up at a gas station on Finley Boulevard and Highway 31. The clerk told him they were out of gas, canceled the transaction, then he left. {}But minutes later......"I had over $766 worth of charges on my card," Johnson said.....including gas, hotel rooms, and concert tickets."Had some in Texas, had some in Paris, Moscow..." Johnson said.David's story is becoming a far too common tale."It's amazing how people can be crooked in today's world," Richard Farrar, a financial advisor with Sagemark Consulting said.We spoke with a financial advisor to find a few ways to prevent card theft."Don't use your debit card in a restaurant," Farrar said. "You're taking your debit card and you're handing it to someone else and they're going to bring it back to you. Whereas a credit card, when you hand the card to someone else, they're going to have to take that card and write it down - they don't have your passcode and things of that nature. You have some protection there."He says, at the grocery store, cover up the key pad where you enter card information. And if you go to the ATM, use your hand to cover account information. {}But new technology is making it easier for crooks to find you...."There are people out there who have readers and as you pass by them, they can read the magnetic strip as they walk past you," Farrar said. "If you're walking past, cover it with the palm of your hand so that no one else can read it."Financial advisors say you should avoid using your debit card - false charges are easier to dispute on credit cards. In David's case, he filed a police report, and canceled the card. He said, the bank will be able to stop some charges before they go through.