For a person who had to change their credit card twice in the last 6 months, I know what pain you go through when your plastic gets compromised. Not only did that mean I had to carry extra cash around for lunch and other incidentals, but I also had to contact all of the companies that automatically charge my card each month (I missed few of my online purchase shipments and was late to pay my mobile bill).
The first time my card number got stolen was probably through a swiping system that wasn’t secure and my number ended up being used for a lot of purchases across the country. Though my bank was wise enough to track this even before me realizing the same and they froze the card immediately.
The second incident was when I unknowingly dropped my card after using it to buy gas, but this time it was spotted by a kind person who took time to inform my company and I had to apply for re-issuance. This incident restored my lost faith in humanity.
As inconvenient as losing a credit card was, the good news was my card company offers full protection against theft. All the charges made by the person who stole my card number were restored in my card and I wasn’t on the hook for any of it. The same could have turned in a horror story if it had been my debit card, restoring those lost funds can take longer and be more complicated and frustrating since a thief can empty the cash in your bank account.
Going through all this made me even more aware and cautious and made me search out different ways through which one can secure their credit card. I understand how dreadful this whole experience can be so just read on to know different ways to make sure that your credit card stays secure:
1. Sign Your Cards Immediately
When you get a new card in the mail, it’s important to sign on the back right away. This protects you if the card falls into someone else’s hands and also the merchants are not supposed to accept any credit card without signatures, so make sure that your husband signs at the back side of a credit card before you take it away from him!
2. Set Up Fraud Alerts
A fraud alert requires creditors to take steps to verify your identity before opening a new account, issuing an additional card, or increasing the credit limit on an existing account. A fraud alert requires that lenders take additional steps to verify your identity first.
How it works:
Initial fraud alert and extended fraud alert are the 2 types of fraud alerts which you can look for, the initial fraud alert will keep a check on your file for 90 days and after its expiration, you’ll have to reapply, and the extended fraud alert is good for 7 years. It requires that creditors contact you through the phone number or other contact methods you designate to verify that you’re the person making the credit request.
3. Don’t store your PIN with Card
We all tend to forget things in the daily hustle bustle of life, but storing your PIN number with your credit card would be the most self-destructing step ever. Make sure that you don’t write down your PIN on a paper and even if you do then never opt for keeping both card and PIN together (keeping the key right next to lock, Not a smart move! Right?!)
PIN (Personal Identification Number) is the only barrier that stops a thief from abusing your card, so make sure that you choose a PIN which you can easily remember and you don’t have to write it somewhere which might jeopardize the security you’re looking for.
4. Set Up Security Freeze
A security freeze on your credit report prevents new credit card and accounts from being opened in your name.
How it works:
When there is a freeze, creditors can’t access your reporting file and therefore won’t offer new credit. This helps prevent identity thieves from opening fraudulent accounts in your name. However, this also means you won’t be able to apply for credit as easily if you were planning to open a new account or apply for a loan. See everything has its pros and cons but it surely is better to be safe today than sorry tomorrow.
5. Check Your Monthly Statements
Checking your monthly credit card statement plays a very crucial role identifying all the expenses that you are incurring and also in monitoring any fraudulent activities. You’ll be easily able to track all of the charges be it the wrongly imposed ones along with any duplicate ones. This checking will also help you in spotting any surprise gifts on the way from your loved one! (Which I’ve also spotted one recently!)
6. Keep Your Information Current
Notify your bank if you move as you want to make sure your statements and other information follow you to your new address and don’t end up in anyone else’s hands. It’s a good idea to sign up for fraud alerts using your cell phone number. This way, if anything goes wrong, you can be contacted quickly.
7. Keep Your Account Number Private
There are a number of ways thieves can get their hands on your credit card number. To prevent it all you need to make sure is to 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 reputed company or organization.
8. Keep a List of All the Card Numbers you Own
Sometimes it gets too late before you realize that you’ve lost your card and to help you with it; keeping a list of all your card numbers in a particular safe source can make sure that you remember how many credit cards you own, how many credit cards have expired and how many are still working. Just make sure that you check this list on a monthly basis and carry only those cards in your wallet with you use regularly.
9. Secure Your Devices and Networks
When securing your digital information, there are a few best practices to follow:
Make sure your computer is equipped with a firewall. Be sure to change the password and keep the firewall turned on.
Download and install updates to your operating system, software and browser when prompted. These updates tend to include the most up-to-date security features.
Install security software. The two most common types are:
Antivirus, which protect your computer from malicious code, and anti-spyware, which keeps people from monitoring your activity.
10. Protect Yourself Online
Online shopping is the best solution to meet even our smallest of the daily requirements and nowadays everyone just keeps on scrolling various shopping sites to shop from, but with these online portals comes a risk of losing your security passwords and other important personal information and details.
In order to minimize the risk of online theft make sure you check the policies on payment, refunds, return and shipping, also keep copies of any confirmation codes or receipts.
11. Report Lost card and Suspected fraud Right Away
If you lose your credit card or suspect any 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 and then, later on, provide you with 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.
Traveling also leaves people vulnerable to more risks, since we are likely to be shopping at unfamiliar locations and might have less access to our online accounts, making it harder to monitor our statements. But make sure that you keep these few tips in mind and practice them and then you’re good to go!