Holiday Tips For Credit Card Safety

Almost one-third of users experience credit card fraud and in 2010 close to 11 million adults experienced identity theft, with 43 percent of reported theft linked to credit card fraud. As of 2010, estimated showed that 11.1 million adults are victims of identity theft each year.

Those are staggering numbers and are the reason that credit card safety is an ongoing necessity for all of us. During holiday season even greater vigilance is necessary for many obvious reasons. Most security actions fall into the common sense group, but with busy lives we often end up tasking without adding a good dose of forethought.

Following are my top ten list of easy, fast habits anyone can build to support credit/debit card security.

  1. Never write down your PIN number and make sure to cover the keypad when entering on any machine. For added secure, do not use a PIN number tied to personally identifiable information. A quick Google search with your name may shock you about your personal data floating around on the web.
  2. Sign the back of your card upon receiving it and destroy old cards immediately. Scissor through the name line and account number. Scrap away the bar code with the scissor blade. Even better, use a home shredder to completely destroy cards.
  3. Review receipts, both ATM and store, to make sure the figures are accurate.
  4. Destroy receipts as soon as possible. I tear ATM receipts into small bits immediately upon verification. Credit receipts are matched to statements online and then shredded.
  5. The only time to give card information over the phone is when you’ve made the call and know the vendor is reputable. Short of this, don’t use the phone for dispensing card information.
  6. Avoid public computers and unsecured networks for all financial transactions, including account balance checks. Online purchases are fast, convenient and a major part of our shopping experiences. However, use only a private-secured connection. Look for the HTTPS//: and closed padlock icon in the address bar.
  7. Never leave a card unattended. It belongs in your hand, wallet or purse. A teller should not take your card to a machine. If so, request to go with the clerk or have the machine brought to you. Unattended includes a card left in the car, hotel room or any place someone can easily access.
  8. Check for skimmers when using ATMs, self-checkout lanes, and swipe pads. A stand-alone swipe pad attached by cable is a red flag for a skimmer.
  9. The new RFID chip cards bring added security using a radio transmitter to send client data, but also need special caution by the user. RFID is easily susceptible to someone with a hand-held reader standing close enough to steal card information. Reportedly, some people have been able to steal card data with a cell phone app. Take added care by using Tyvek sleeves or RFID wallets that can block radio signals
  10. Carry only a few cards or better yet one. People tend to have multiple cards, but should carry only those used – be selective.

Increased card use provides greater chance for credit fraud leading to a disappointing way to start the new year. Be on your guard through the holidays and use these tips when you use a credit card.