Helpful Tips on Debit/Credit Card Usage

The team at Compass Federal Credit Union has recently compiled a set of helpful tips on debit and credit card usages, not only for the Holiday season, but for the entire year.

These tips are suggested when using ATM's, or online shopping, in order to help prevent fraud or scams from happening to you.


  • If using an ATM machine or a gas pump, please check for skimmers.  A skimmer is a device that fraudsters will place on top of the card insertion area, that will collect your card number to be duplicated.  Look closely before entering your card to see if there is any additional layers or pieces attached to it.  It is also suggested that you only use ATM machines at financial institutions, as these are less likely to have skimmers attached to them.

Online Purchasing Tips

  • When using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. - do not purchase from the ads displayed throughout the site.  If you want to purchase from the merchant displayed (Wal-Mart, NIKE, etc.), you should purchase from their website only.  Ads on social media generally bring you to sites that look similar to, or the same as, the actual merchant's website.  More times than not, these sites are in on way affiliated with the true merchant.  This is how scams or fraud occurs.  
  • When completing an online order, complete your purchase as a guest, this way your payment method is not saved to the merchant's website.  If your merchant account gets hacked, for example you have your information saved through, a scammer will have access to purchase from with your card information.
  • A merchant should NEVER need you to download software or coupons onto your computer in order to checkout.  If something pops up asking you to download something to complete your order, close it and do not download anything.  If by chance you do download it, call your credit union immediately for options.
  • Research merchants and sellers BEFORE you complete a purchase with them.  You can do this by entering the merchants name in your browser with the terms "scam" or "fraud" after the merchants name.  If others have had issues in the past when purchasing from them, it is probably a scam and we advise you not to purchase from them.
  • A reputable site will NEVER ask for any extra information for a purchase.  They should never need your birthday, or social security number to complete an order.  Billing address and payment information is all that is needed.
  • Encrypted sites can still be a scam.  Be sure to check for spelling errors on websites that you're browsing.  If words are spelled wrong, or numbers and letters are transposed to make it hard to catch, click off the site immediately.  
  • Be careful of "Too good to be true ads."  If a website is offering something that is too good to be true, it probably is.  Check other retailers to see what the average price for the item is, anything more than 55% off should be a red flag.  
  • Check on refund and return policies.  If you purchase something from a website and agree to their refund and return policy without reading it, the credit union will not be able to dispute a charge for you, if for any reason, there is an issue with the product.