By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — We lock our front doors when we’re not at home and lock our cars when we’re not driving them.  Even our cell phones have locks.  ut now there’s a way to lock your debit and credit cards too.  3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan takes a look at how you can turn your cards on and off remotely.

When a flyer from his bank arrived in Scott Kilmer’s mailbox advertising a new app that would “lock” his debit card with a quick tap and swipe, he signed up.

“That was 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,” said Kilmer.

The app Scott has is one of several banks are offering, designed to let customers prevent unauthorized charges.

Here’s how it works:

Open the app and toggle this button to “activation” and the debit card is “on” and transactions are approved.  But toggle that activation switch the other way, and the card is off and the card is declined.

“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 with the American Bankers Association.

Robb Gaynor of Malauzai Software, the maker of the app Scott uses, predicts this technology will be the next big thing in banking, and says right now more than 80 smaller banks and credit unions are offering their app for debit card.  And the functions of this technology go beyond turning a card on or off.

“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 Gaynor.

Keep in mind though, in order to change any card settings with an app, you’ve got to be digitally connected.

If you lose your phone or the battery dies when your card is locked you could get stuck, unable to get money or make a purchase.

While these apps are certainly beneficial, nothing is foolproof.  The American Bankers Association recommends you still keep a good eye on your account even if your card is “locked” most of the time.

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