I’ll get right to it with this one. Here are 6 ways to keep your credit card data safe. Sometimes it helps to have a simple reminder of the things you should and shouldn’t be doing.
Many cardholders are guilty carrying a single (loose) card in their pocket or purse, I know I am one of these guilty parties. Your cards are not like your keys or phone, they can easily be lost when pulling other items out of your pocket or purse. Your credit card should always be housed within a wallet. Cards tend to stay put when resting within a sleeve in your wallet.
Most people store their cards online, and once again, I am guilty. However, I do not store my card in every shopping cart I use. I try and limit my card details to as few places as possible; mostly to sites I use on a very frequent basis. This means Amazon and some utilities that have recurring payments tied to them. For one off purchases and archaic sites that I just don’t trust all that much, I opt to not store my card info with them. While this isn’t foolproof by any means, it will limit the possibility of your card information being stolen. As an addendum, try not to keep your card info written down on random pieces of paper. If you have to write it down somewhere, make sure it gets shredded after its use.
Not all credit card theft is high-tech. One of the most common ways that thieves target credit card users is by stealing their mail. If your mailbox at home is vulnerable to theft, consider having new cards sent to your office or P.O. box. If you are traveling for more than a few days without anyone to pick-up your mail, be sure to have your mail held by the post office to ensure that it is not stolen. Mail theft increases around the holidays when many families leave their homes and become easy targets while they are away.
Probably the oldest way that thieves gain access to your account information is by stealing information from your statements. Your bank and credit card statements can contain your credit card data which can be used to steal your identity. Additionally, your statements and other financial mail can sometimes contain “convenience” checks, which create a high potential for fraud.
As countless retail security breaches have proved, there may never be a way to prevent hackers from acquiring credit card data, but the Fair Credit Billing Act ensures that cardholders do not have to be responsible for unauthorized charges. But there is one catch: cardholders have to spot the fraudulent charges and report them to their banks. The only way to do so is to go through your credit card statements and consider each charge. Unfortunately, some merchants process their charges under names that their customers might not be familiar with.
It's also a good idea to periodically check your credit reports to make sure there are no new accounts opened in your name without your knowledge. If you see an account that isn't yours, contact the issuer as well as the credit reporting agency that generated the credit report to dispute the account.
As we become more tech immersed and more comfortable exposing personal information to the public via social media, we are increasingly putting our data at risk. Often this info can be used to trick a credit card issuer into giving access to thieves. Once someone has stolen your identity, their very next step is to change your address and order new credit cards sent directly to them. If any personal information such as your mother's maiden name, your favorite pet's name or the name of the street you grew up on is online, consider changing your security codes and questions to something else.
In the future as more and more data is available online, it will become increasingly important to be diligent with credit card protection. Practice these steps as a precaution and eventually it will become habit. This is one of life's lessons you do not want to learn the hard way.
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