Due to the ease of making purchases with credit cards, these little pieces of plastic are a common target for theft. Whether criminals steal your physical card or just your card’s numbers, they can do major damage.
Luckily laws protect you from being liable for purchases made with a lost or stolen card, but it can still cause headache and affect your credit. Use this tips to protect your credit cards.
1. Be cautious of phishing
If you receive calls or emails asking for your credit card number or other private information, do not give it out. You may be a victim of phishing. This is when criminals pose as legitimate institutions and try to steal information that can be used to make fraudulent purchases or steal your identity.
Most legitimate businesses will never ask for that information. If you receive a call, hang up, look up the official phone number for that institution and give them a call to confirm whether someone there was actually trying to reach you.
2. Keep your card secure
Many people assume the best in others and leave their credit cards unsecured at their desk or in their car while they’re away. Don’t risk it! Always take your wallet and credit card with you or leave it safely locked in a desk drawer.
When you travel, never keep credit cards in your pocket, where they can be easily stolen by professional pickpockets. Always use special gear designed to hide your cards from reach (there are belts and lanyards that go under your clothes and even underwear with secret pockets.)
If you want to use plastic and minimize the risk of losing all your money, consider purchasing a prepaid credit card.
“It’s important to ensure no lines of credit are
being opened in your name without permission.”
3. Shred your documents
If you receive sensitive documents with your card number on it, such as credit card statements, always shred them after reviewing them. If you throw them away intact, you risk a thief going through your garbage and finding the number.
Fortunately receipts no longer display full credit card numbers, so you do not have to worry about shredding those.
4. Check your statements
Every month thoroughly review your credit card statement to make sure there are no fraudulent transactions. If you do see anything suspicious, call your issuer immediately. They will investigate and let you know whether it’s something to be concerned about.
5. Monitor your credit report
It’s also important to ensure no lines of credit are being opened in your name without your permission, which is a form of identity theft.
Check your official credit report for free once a year on AnnualCreditReport.com. Of course, if you want to check your credit more than once a year, there are other options to do that as well.
Photo source: familycredit.org
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.