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Seen At 11: Smartphone Apps Serving As ‘Lock’ For Credit, Debit Cards

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Every day thousands of credit and debit card numbers are stolen. But, as CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, now there’s something simple you can do to “lock” thieves out of your accounts.

“I know exactly where my money is being spent and, better, where it’s not being spent,” said consumer Scott Kilmer.

That’s because Kilmer’s bank allows him to lock his debit card when he’s not using it, so no one else can.

“That is really the feature that stood out to me most, where I could say, ‘It’s time for me to turn this off and just know that I have the peace of mind that no one can get to this account but me,'” he said.

Kilmer turns his debit card off with the help of a smartphone app. A growing number of banks are now offering a variety of the “credit lock” apps in an effort to combat the stealing and hacking of card numbers.

“We’re all familiar with the bank systems that identify suspicious activity, but this is one that actually stops the fraud before the transaction occurs,” said Nessa Feddis of the American Bankers Association.

With a touch of your smartphone, you can lock your card. When you’re ready to make a purchase or withdraw cash from an ATM, just swipe the screen to instantly reactivate the card.

“You can also do things such as asking for ATM limit increases, point-of-sale increases or letting the bank know if you’re going to be outside of the country,” said Robb Gaynor of Malazui Software, which makes one of the apps that he says more than 80 smaller banks and credit unions offer with their debit cards.

“Mobile banking is secured in multiple layers,” he added.

But critics says it’s not foolproof. The American Bankers Association points out that if you lose your phone or the battery dies when you card is locked, you could be looking for a Plan B to get money or make a purchase in an emergency.

“It’s a matter of staying one step ahead of the fraudsters,” Feddis said. ” … If this system becomes more popular, fraudsters, of course, will then try to break down the barriers.”

The American Bankers Association recommends that you still keep an eye on your account and check daily for charges, even if it your card is locked.

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