Americans use credit cards more than ever these days—which makes understanding credit card safety an essential part of their use. There’s a lot you can do to help protect your credit cards, and most of it comes down to common sense. Read these credit card safety tips and learn simple ways to safeguard your cards.
Practice basic credit card security.
When it comes time to get a new card in the mail, it is crucial to sign the back right away. This protects you if the card falls into someone else's hands. It is also important to not store your PIN the same place as your card; if your card gets stolen, you don't want a thief to have the PIN as well.
Keep your account number private.
There are a number of ways thieves can get their hands on your credit card number. To prevent this:
- Keep your card private. Don’t let anyone see it when you’re out in public.
- Don’t give your card information over the phone unless you initiated the call and you’re talking to a bank or merchant you trust.
- Never answer an email that asks for your account number or personal information, even if it looks like it’s from your bank or a reputable company or organization.
- Consider paperless statements and making payments online to remove your sensitive information from the postal system. It’s also a good idea to shred documents with sensitive personal information prior to disposal.
Be careful with your receipts.
If you have extra space on your receipt, draw a line through it so no one can add in any additional charges or amounts. It’s also a good idea to check your receipts against your billing statements to make sure everything adds up. Finally, don’t just throw out any duplicates or old receipts. Shred the ones you don’t need and securely file the rest.
Check your account often.
Reviewing your recent account activity is fundamental to credit card safety—and it’s easy. You can do it online or by phone. If your credit card issuer offers email or text alerts about unusual activity, sign up to receive them. If you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft in the past, consider signing up with a credit-monitoring service.
Report lost cards and suspected fraud right away.
If you lose your credit card or suspect fraudulent activity, contact your bank or credit card issuer right away. Your credit card issuer can block your card and account number so no one else can use them, then give you a new card and account number. Remember: Speed is critical. According to U.S. law, once you notify your issuer that your card was lost or stolen, the most you’ll have to pay is $50—and many issuers waive that as long as you notify them promptly.
Credit card safety isn’t just for those who are new to using credit cards. It’s easy for many of us to forget these basic credit card safety tips, even after years of being cardholders.
However, by protecting yourself, your wallet, and your information, as well as being mindful of how and where you purchase, you can be sure your shopping cart will be good to go.