What you need to do to guard your card
Sometimes it seems that you can’t go online or open a newspaper without seeing something about identity theft or credit card fraud. And it can be frightening to think about the ingenious ways thieves can attack credit card holders. The good news: there’s a lot you can do to keep your card—and your account—safe.
1. Always signing your card as soon as you receive it.
2. Never keeping your PIN code with your card.
And that’s just the beginning.
Keep your account number private.
Thieves don’t need the card itself to access your account, so:
- Be careful when you use your card in public — don’t let anyone see the account number.
- Don’t give out your account number over the phone unless you made the call to your bank or a merchant you know and trust.
- Never respond to e-mails that ask for your account number, even if they seem to come from your bank.
- If you move, notify your credit card issuer so your statement will be sent to your new address.
Managing Credit Tip #10
Reviewing your credit report can help catch errors, reduce fraud, and show you how to improve your credit score. You can request a free annual credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Handle receipts with care.
It’s rare nowadays to see carbon copies with the imprint of your account number. And it is against federal law to include more than the last five digits of an account number on a printed receipt. Still, always remember to:
- Draw a line through extra spaces when signing, so nothing can be added later.
- Save receipts to check against your billing statement.
- Shred receipts (and any duplicates) that you no longer need, and securely file the rest.
Be smart when shopping online.
Online shopping is fast, convenient and, most of the time, completely safe. But online fraud can happen, so remember these basic tips:
- Shop with established businesses that you can contact easily to resolve problems.
- Don’t share personal information unless you absolutely have to and you know how it will be used.
- Check refund and return policies, shipping costs and guidelines, and payment terms.
- Print or keep electronic copies of receipts, including confirmation numbers and e-mails.
Protect your passwords.
When you shop or bank online, use effective passwords to help keep your account number safe:
- Keep passwords secret — never share them, and never keep them near your card.
- Use both numbers and letters in passwords.
- Avoid using names, birthdays or anniversaries in passwords.
Check your account frequently.
The sooner you find a problem, the easier it is to fix. And it doesn’t take long to check basic information about your current account activity online or by phone. Some issuers can even send e-mails to notify you when transactions occur. And if you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft in the past, consider signing up with a credit-monitoring service that can allow easy access to your credit reports, as well as notify you about activity on all your accounts.
If you lose your card or suspect fraud, don’t wait.
Report lost or stolen cards — or suspected fraud — to your credit card issuer immediately. They want to stop fraud just as much as you do, and the faster you act, the easier it can be to fix. If someone gets hold of your card or account number, your credit card issuer can block the account so no one else can use it. Then they’ll issue you a new card and account number.
U.S. law protects you from liability for fraud once you’ve notified the issuer that the card is lost or stolen. The most you’ll have to pay is $50, and many issuers waive that as long as you notify them promptly of the loss.
A little effort goes a long way.
The danger of fraud—and the hassle of cleaning it up—should be taken seriously. It’s worth the effort to take these simple precautions that can help ensure that you’ll continue to safely enjoy the flexibility and convenience of your credit card.
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