No. of Recommendations: 5
Please review this news story about Check Card ("debit card") problems at http://www.komotv.com/stories/18975.htm

The story documents a huge headache when a pizza restaurant clerk inadvertently keyed in an incorrect purchase amount. Unlike a VISA or MasterCard credit-card transaction, the VISA/MasterCard networks WILL NOT "void out" an incorrect debit amount on a Check Card. The restaurant had routinely "voided out" occasional erroneous transactions and not had problems before. But the bank (the video shows the cardholder used a U.S. Bank Check Card) was completely uncooperative in assisting in correcting the mistake - apparently they are NOT required to do so:

"It seemed simple enough: Void the mistake, get the void receipt, and redo the transaction correctly.

"Kevin thought that was the end of it.

"Until he checked with his bank, and learned the $97 dollars had not been voided!

"By the time he contacted KOMO 4 News, overdraft charges were approaching $200 and no one would help." [NOTE: The cardholder's bank DID NOT ASSIST THE CUSTOMER in spite of their so-called "Purchase Assurance" or "Five-Star Service Guarantee"]

"'My account's been frozen for going on almost a week now,' Watson said. 'I'm overdrawn almost 300 dollars. I have no access to the funds that are mine in there.'

"Unlike credit cards, you can't void a mistake on your debit card. The clerk has to "credit" your checking account so the money that was taken out can go back in.

"Like a lot of debit card users, Kevin had no idea.

"'It's really been an eye-opener for me,' Watson said"
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No. of Recommendations: 1
In the story, this quote is particularly worth noting - and the problem described in the story might happen with PIN-based POS as well as with signature-based Check Card transactions, although the scenario here was a signature-based VISA transaction:

"Banks also warn that too many people still assume debit cards are protected against fraud. Some are not. If you lose money because your debit card is lost or stolen, you might not get your money back."
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No. of Recommendations: 1
Interesting to see that US Bank was involved, considering the less than flattering things about them that have been mentioned here in the past.

Personally, I don't know why anyone would routinely use debit cards if they had a choice.
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No. of Recommendations: 4
Personally, I suggest using a Credit Card for routine transactions and paying off the CC balance in full every month.

If a merchant-initiated error shows up on your CC, you have leverage in disputing the erroneous charges. The card issuer's money is at stake, not your own checking account.

Currency and coins still work well for many small transactions. With cash, you know exactly where you stand - you make payment and receive change, there's no second-guessing.

VISA and MasterCard sponsored the implementation of higher ATM usage fees and surcharges to motivate consumers to substitute VISA/MasterCards for cash. VISA and MasterCard ("nonprofit organizations") have quietly acquired a controlling financial interest in most of the US ATM networks.

As a savvy consumer, it is in your self-interest to have low-fee access to your own cash, which is why I do most of my routine banking with branchless Internet banks that offer no-fee ATM usage and some ATM surcharge rebates.
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