Cash – Debit Card – Credit Card

When Truck Campers are on a road trip

When truck campers are traveling on a road trip, is it better to use cash, debit card(s), or credit card(s)? Do you know what a fraudulent card reader looks like at an ATM or service station fuel pump? What does the skimming of a card have anything to do with a road trip?

Warning to Truck Campers – Fraudulent card readers frequently appears at service stations and ATMs near Interstate Highways. Why? It is easier for the criminals to make their quick get-a-away and get lost in traffic on the Interstates.

In January 2020, the Secret Service reported removing credit/debit card skimmers at service stations pumps nationwide at the rate of 20 to 30 skimmers a week.   The average skimmer contains account information from about 80 cards.


  • Cash is convenient and accepted everywhere.
  • You might even save some money if the gas station provides discounts for using cash instead of a card.


  • Carrying coins and paper money is a security risk. When stolen, you cannot replace it. The key is to have just a small amount of cash on hand and a backup of money stashed away in a safe location.

USING Debit card

  • Debit cards are easy to use, carry nominal fees, and are quickly canceled if lost or stolen. In addition, the cards can use them to retrieve cash at an ATM and are all-around less bulky than carrying cash on your hip.


  • The most troublesome aspect of debit cards is the lack of protection policies, at least when compared to credit cards. Debit cards are linked DIRECTLY to your bank account.
  • If the ATM is outside of your banking network, an additional fee could be charged by your bank.
  • Your liability for your loss when a fraudulent debit card transaction occurs depends on how quickly you report the problem to your bank.
  • Suppose you report an unauthorized transaction or the loss of your debit card before a transaction is processed. In that case, your liability is if you report the problem within two days after receiving your statement, your liability is $50. From two to 50 days after receiving your statement, your liability is $500. If you report a problem more than 60 days after receiving your statement, you are out of luck. The 60-day reporting limit applies even if your card is in your possession.
  • Debit card transaction-related issues involve security holds placed on the card by the card company or banks. These temporary holds are used as a type of security deposit, resulting in tying up actual cash from your checking account. It is like your money is being held, hostage. Tom Harkin, chief strategy officer for Secure Identity Systems (an issuing card financial institution), says, “…the hold will be placed on the funds in your bank account until the appropriate charge is processed. This hold could be as long as six to eight days, and those funds will not be available for use. If this occurs a few times, there could be no funds left for legitimate purchases, and no additional authorizations will be allowed.”
  • Because you need a personal identification number (PIN) to complete a debit card transaction, this type of fraud also includes stealing your PIN.

    Protect your PIN
  • Skimming is the theft of your card’s magnetic stripe data using a portable device or a reader that attaches outside or inside an ATM or at the fuel pump. Combined with theft of your PIN via a camera, fake keypad, or direct observation
    One type of card skimmer (fraud card reader)



  • Theft of your card’s magnetic stripe data and PIN can occur when your card becomes stuck in the card reader, which, in turn, will prompt to ask you to re-enter your PIN.
  • Check each card reader before you use it if you see a plastic device that looks as though it has been inserted into the card reader or see duplicate security cameras TUG on the card reader.
    A card skimmer at a gas pump

    When in doubt, use a different ATM or service pump.

USING YOUR Credit card(S)

  • Credit cards can make it easier to make purchases. Credit cards may also offer you additional protection if something you have bought is lost, damaged, or stolen.
  • Premium credit cards offer higher credit limits and usually have extra features, such as product warranties, purchase protection, travel insurance, and emergency services.
  • You may get rewards and perks when you use your credit cards.
  • “Almost all reputable credit cards offer some form of fraud protection – which means you aren’t responsible if your card is stolen and someone runs up big bills,” said April Lewis-Parks, director of education for Consolidated Credit
  • The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) protects customers when fraudulent transactions are made to a credit card account. Under federal law, if unauthorized charges are made with your credit card, the maximum amount you can be liable for is $50
  • As a preventive measure, you can also set up transaction alerts that can help you spot fraud by notifying you when your card is charged over a certain amount.


  • The disadvantage of credit cards is how easy they are to use and encourage people to spend money that they do not have.

For all CARDS

  • Alert your bank that you will be traveling. Include the dates you will be away and your destination. Otherwise, your bank could freeze your account if they are alerted to a transaction in a location far from your home. Banks do this to protect your account from theft, but it can be inconvenient if you travel.
  • Provide a contact number for your bank to reach you if they have any concerns about your debit card activity. A cell number is best.
  • Find out whether your bank charges a fee to use another bank’s ATM
  • Update your bank’s telephone contact list and credit card fraud department with you before your trip.

Additional Information

The Secret Service provides additional information on how to protect you and your family from credit card fraud at

Any suggestions or comments – good or bad – don’t hesitate to contact us at Thank you.

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