8 ways to protect your credit cards
Credit fraud is a fact of every day life. Thieves continue to get more sophisticated and it is no longer individuals but entire organizations devoted to this crime. There are ways that you can protect yourself against them. It’s not difficult, and it requires little more than discipline and a little common sense.
Be sure to sign the back of a new credit card immediately. If the physical card falls into the wrong hands, this is your first line of defense. The small inconvenience of suspicious activity alerts can save you big headaches down the road. Be sure to create strong passwords and pins for every account. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. When there is two factor authentication, it is always a good idea to opt in.
Keep Account Numbers Private
When you are in public, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t let others see the number on your card. If you are providing the number over the phone, be selective and only do so with businesses you’ve transitioned before. Be suspicious of messages, e-mails or calls when they ask you to verify your information. If you are unsure, contact the bank or credit card company directly on the toll free number printed on the card and ask if they have tried to contact you. Paperless statements are more secure as mail theft is a big part of the problem.
Be sure to inform your bank and credit card providers of any changes to your information by calling them directly or updating your information on their website. Changes of address, email, or phone numbers are easy to do and protect you because thieves won’t have the most updated information.
Paper receipts that have extra space are dangerous. Draw a line where the charges end to prevent someone from adding extra charges manually. Check your receipts against your statements once a week or at least once a month. Make sure to shred any receipts if you choose to dispose of them.
Networks and Devices
If you allow your browser to store your credit card for convenience, you could be vulnerable. Turn off the autofill function on your browsers. Digital wallets have come a long way. They are payment systems stored and encrypted in your phone. This makes it very difficult for other devices to read.
We assume you already do the basic online and mobile safety by using passwords for access, fingerprint or face recognition, but these tips are for credit card specifically.
Merchants – When shopping online, make sure to only do business with sites that have the prefix “https” the “s” stands for secured. Look for the green lock icon. Look closely at the URL and make sure it contains the correct company’s name. Amazon.com vs Amazons.com, one character can make all the difference.
Typing – We know it’s convenient but avoid letting an online shopping store to store your credit card number. Nobody watches after your property like you can.
WiFi – We cannot emphasize this enough. Do not do any transactions using your credit cards over a public WiFi. Anyone with rudimentary understanding of code can read your information.
Check Back Often
This is one that most of us who lack discipline ignore, but it is so easy and takes but mere minutes. Check your account often. Once a week while your transactions are still fresh in your mind is recommended.
Lost or Stolen
If you as much as think you might have misplaced your card or suspect fraudulent activity, report it right away. Have your bank or merchant block the account and issue a new number. Did you know that by law, once you have reported a card, you are only liable for $50. Yes, any transactions done after you’ve reported the card cannot be charged to you.