If something is familiar to you and convenient, then it’s easy to get unmindful and miss the hidden dangers in using it. This could not be more true than for using your credit card.
We all know how easy and convenient it is to pay by Credit Card. There is no cash to carry, no change to stash in your wallet or pockets, and no worries about not having enough funds with you when you are at the checkout. However, this convenient way to pay has a price, and this price consists not only of the high fees and charges that you pay for using the card, there are also potential costly security threats that you need to be aware of. Even though the electronic nature of the transaction may reduce your perception of the risks involved, they are real, and you need to keep an eye on what the person is doing behind the counter with your card, or whether that ATM machine has a device attached to it as to steal your details, or even if someone you know may borrow and misuse your card. And the scariest risk of all? Using your card on the internet.
But what can you do in order to protect yourself from all of these threats?
Here are ten suggestions that might look obvious and simple, but there are lots of cases where neglect of these ended in a very unpleasant experience for the cardholder.
1. Never respond to emails that request you to provide your credit card info via email — and don’t ever respond to emails that ask you to go to a website to verify personal (and credit card) information. These are called ‘phishing’ scams. Credit card data are never communicated via emails, even not between two banks and those institutions that process or hold credit card details for legitimate reasons.
2. You should be very careful who you give your credit card to. Don’t give out your account number over the phone unless you initiate the call and you know the company is reputable. Never give your credit card info out when you receive a phone call. For example, if you’re told there has been a ‘computer problem’ and the caller needs you to verify information. Trustworthy companies don’t call you to ask for a credit card number over the phone.
3. Never provide your credit card information on a website that is not a secure site. How do you know if it is secure? Most of the browsers will give you a visual confirmation, likely in the form of the secure padlock symbol, but the easiest way is to see if the address starts with https:// and not just http://. If the previous is the case, then it is secure.
4. Keep an eye on your credit card every time you use it, and make sure you get it back as quickly as possible. Try not to let your credit card disappear out of your sight. Reputable shops and service providers will not have a problem with this.
5. Sign your credit card as soon as you receive it.
6. Don’t write your PIN number on your credit card — nor keep it written down anywhere near your credit card (in the event that your wallet or purse gets stolen).
7. Shred all credit card information you receive, and no longer wish to keep. Yes, shred it. Don’t think that when you throw it in the trash bin it is gone. There have been many cases where valuable information was stolen from the garbage of a victim. Don’t be that victim.
8. Never leave your credit cards or receipts lying around and conceal your credit card number so that others around you can’t copy it or capture.
9. Keep a list in a secure place with all of your account numbers and expiration dates, as well as the phone number and address of each bank that has issued you a credit card. Keep this list updated each time you get a new credit card. This is in case you should lose your cards and need to contact your bank or possibly even credit card company to cancel them and have new ones issued.
10. Open credit card bills promptly and make sure there are no bogus charges. Treat your credit card bill like your bank account — reconcile it monthly. Save your receipts so you can compare them with your monthly bills. If you find any charges that you don’t have a receipt for — or that you don’t recognize, first try calling the number showing on your card statement for that transaction and see if additional information can help you identify; if not report these charges promptly (and in writing) to your credit card issuer.
If you follow these simple tips above you can be sure that you do your best to protect your credit card information when purchasing goods and services online. Now you can enjoy your shopping.