Protecting your bank account this holiday shopping season

Protecting your bank account this holiday shopping season

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - When it comes to Christmas shopping, is it better to use a debit, credit card or cash? Financial expert Stewart Welch discusses the safest way to spend money during the holidays.

Home Depot officials say hackers stole more than 50 million customer credit and debit card accounts as well as email addresses.

With Black Friday right around the corner and the threat of security breaches Welch said shoppers need to take precautions if they plan on using plastic at checkout.

"Credit cards versus debit cards. I don't like debit cards," said Welch.

So, Welch advised not to swipe your debit card, not even as the credit option. He said use an actual credit card.

"The reason is if somebody steals your info and charges against the debit card that cash is out of your account," he said.

Welch said customers will likely get that cash credited back to your checking account, but it may take several weeks.

"Most people can't afford to be out of their cash that long," said Welch. "With a credit card if someone steals your information that's all handled at the credit card company and you're never out of cash."

And speaking of cash, he said it's the most secure way to pay, but carrying a lot of it can be risky.

"When you're pulling out cash at retail stores and it's really busy people see you have a lot of cash. You're subject to being robbed," said Welch.

Welch believes a credit card is the best way to purchase all of your holiday gifts.

He offered a tip on how to create a little bit of extra security for yourself.

"I put alerts on there," said Welch. "So every time you make a charge the credit card company immediately sends you an email and let's you know what the retailer was and what amount."

Welch said with these alerts, shoppers will know right away if it's a transaction you just made or if a thief gained access to your account.

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