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Why Using Your Debit Card Could Be A Problem This Holiday Season

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- With holiday shopping in full swing, criminals are trying to take full advantage and it could be a problem for people using debit cards.

Criminals can get payment information from hacking or card skimmers but using the right card could help prevent you from losing your hard earned cash.

When Michelle Colver Hilliard noticed $500 missing from her checking account, she immediately reported the fraud.

"We were advised that the money would be returned within 12 hours," said Hilliard.

One month later the money was still missing and with every call she got the same response.

"The claim was being processed and it would be one to two business days before our account would be credited," said Hilliard.

Frustrated, she reached out to the media who reached out to Chase bank. The company wouldn't say how Hilliard's account was compromised but about a week later chase did credit her account.

"It can take banks weeks or months to put that money back in your account," said Sean McQuay with Nerd Wallet.

Mcquay says Hilliard's story should serve as a warning for holiday shoppers in this season ripe with fraud.

Use credit cards instead of a debit cards whenever possible.

"A debit card is a representation of your checking account. It's effectively cash. You can miss major payments like mortgage or rent checks that can damage your credit," said McQuay.

Unlike credit cards which carry zero liability for fraud, you may be liable for up to $50 dollars for debit card fraud and that's if you notify the bank right away. If you don't notice the charge for 48 hours, you may be liable for up to $500. Longer than 60 days and you could be liable for the whole thing.

"During my holiday shopping this year, I will definitely use my credit card versus my debit card," said Hilliard.

Chase apologized for the delay in the reimbursement, which it says was caused by a system error. The bank says it is investigating the incident.

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