Target security breach teaches lesson about using credit vs. debit cards

Millions of people are now getting new debit cards, or will soon be receiving one, as a result of the Target security breach over the holidays.

It's just one of more than 600 known security breaches last year.

That includes the Maricopa Community College breach that affects so many people.

But the Target breach wasn't as much about getting your personal information to create new identities. It was more about scammers getting directly into your bank account.

Shannon Daugherty is a Target shopper. She received a fraud alert email from her bank.

It said someone was trying to use her credit card, just a day after she used it at Target.

She was never in Texas.

"It does make you nervous, it makes you leery to use your card to make a big purchase."

She doesn't know if the breach is related.

But there is a big lesson here: you have more protection using a credit card than a debit card.

If someone steals your credit card number, they're stealing the bank's money.

If they steal your debit number, they get directly into your bank account.    

While the big credit card companies won't hold you liable for fraud, that's not the case with debit cards.

Your maximum liability is $50 if you notify the bank in two days. If not, it can go to $500 and higher if you don't report the fraud in 60 days.

So protect yourself.

Constantly monitor your bank account and set up fraud alerts.

If using a debit card, link it to a smaller account with less money available

And set your debit card number so a PIN is required.

Those cards are 15 times less likely to be stolen than debit cards you swipe as credit.

Check out other credit card protections through the Federal Trade Commission site.

E-mail me with any consumer issue you have or "like" my Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me about it there.

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