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Quick: how do you pay for most things? Cash, credit card, debit card?

If you answered debit card — like most of us, we imagine — you’ve potentially added your name to the growing list of people affected by debit card fraud.

According to Javelin Strategy & Research’s “2018 Identity Fraud Study,” the number of fraud victims in 2017 reached 16.7 million, with $16.8 billion lost.

Most of that fraud occurs because of your debit card.

“A debit card is certainly and truly the worst financial tool ever given to the American consumer,” argues Frank Abagnale, a reformed con artist who now works with the FBI. “Every time you use one, you put your money and your bank account at risk.”

Debit cards are like opening a door to your checking account, experts say, making it easier to drain your accounts with a few button clicks.

Credit cards, on the other hand, are more protected by federal law, limiting a card user’s liability if they are stolen.

“When I use a credit card, I’m spending the credit card company’s money every day until I pay my bill at the end of the month,” Abagnale explains, “meanwhile, my money is earning interest in a bank account.”

Also, credit card fraud is more easily remedied, according to experts. You report the fraud, the credit card company cancels the card and sends you a new one. While you may have to change some online shopping habits, generally you will be protected.

Dealing with debit card fraud, on the other hand, is much more complicated.

“Debit card fraud isn’t protected by the law, and it can wreak havoc on your checking account,” says the experts at Investing Answers, “make no mistake, losing your debit card can cost you tons more if it’s stolen.”

Depending on the time in which you report debit card fraud, there is no guarantee that you’ll get all your money back.

The truth is, using a debit card is more dangerous than a credit card. There are specific places that debit card users should be particularly careful: gas stations, bars and restaurants, online retailers, and outdoor ATMs.

We say, make things harder for the criminals attempting to steal your money and always use a credit card.

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