A credit card that is used properly will continue to reward you for every purchase you make. However, if you don’t take precautions to protect and take care of your credit card, you may run into problems. For example, a damaged credit card makes it unreadable at machines and render it virtually useless. A compromised credit card can lead to fraudulent charges and ruin your credit history. Here are a few tips to use your credit card safely and properly.
Tip 1: Use Your Credit Card on Trusted and Secured Websites
Scammers are constantly bombarding consumers with fake emails and text messages. Never click a link from your email. Instead, if you know the website, type it in yourself. Before you click enter, double check the URL is the one you are intending to shop at. When you are ready to check out, make sure that the URL has an extra “s.” https:// indicates that the website is encrypted and protects your personal information.
Tip 2: Avoid Public Computers and WiFi
Public computers are good for browsing the Internet. However, never input your login information, personal information, or credit card information on public computers. There is a chance that these computers have a keylogger software that captures and reveals your keystrokes to a waiting hacker.
Public WiFi may be convenient, especially if you do not have unlimited data on your cellphone. However, the hotspot networks that you can conveniently connect to often do not have much security. Hackers are using the same WiFi network to intercept your data and then steal your credit card information. In fact, at times the supposed “free” WiFi are merely traps that the criminal has set up to lure unexpecting users.
Tip 3: Always Get a Receipt
You should always get a receipt for every credit card transaction. This is to ensure that the merchant has not deceptively tried to charge more than agreed upon. Furthermore, you should always draw a line through any blank spaces above the total and never sign a blank receipt. By keeping your receipts, you can check them against your billing statement. With your receipts, you will have the proof that the merchant is committing credit card fraud and will be able to inform your credit card company as soon as you see it post.
Tip 4: Report Lost or Stolen Cards Immediately
Time is critical if your card is ever lost or stolen. By reporting it immediately, your credit card company can suspend your card and block any future transactions from going through. This will make it easier to fight the charges if a thief has your physical credit card and decides to go on a shopping spree on your dime. If you think your credit card is at home, simply inform your credit card company. They may be able to temporarily freeze your card until you confirm that it is truly lost. If it is truly lost, they will be able to immediately reissue you a card with a new number.
Tip 5: Do Not Write Down Your PIN
Your PIN is another security measure to show merchants that you are the actual cardholder and that you authorize the transaction. Never write down your PIN. If your purse or wallet ever gets stolen, the thief will have access to both your card and your PIN. Instead, there are a few methods to memorize your PIN while at the same time, keeping it difficult to guess. One example is to use the “word method.” This means you convert a word or acronym, ideally not in the dictionary, into your PIN, based on where the letter is located on a traditional telephone.
For example, the word “word” converts to the PIN 9673 because the W is on the 9, the O is on the 6, and so on. Of course, you would try not to use the word “word” because it is located in the dictionary. High tech automated hacking programs attempt to generate words to guess your PIN. A few other methods are the “date method,” the “cell phone friend method,” and the “addition method.”
Tip 6: Avoid Saving Your Credit Card Number
It is extremely convenient to save your credit card number within a retailer’s website for faster check out next time. However, this is not safe because if their website gets hacked, the hacker will have access to all your personal information. Of course, the breach of data is of no fault of your own. However, as an additional way to protect yourself, do not save your information.
Tip 7: Use a Strong Password
A strong password is a mix of numbers and letters, both uppercase and lowercase characters and at least one special symbol like @ or !. Always make your password unique for each account and website. That way, if a thief hacks one website, he won’t be able to access all your accounts.
Tip 8: Check Your Account Often
Reviewing your recent account activity is the fastest way to catch a suspicious charge. You will usually be able to see any pending charges on your credit card issuer’s website, even before you get your credit card statement. As soon as you see a suspicious charge, contact your credit card company promptly. They will block all future charges, dispute the suspicious charges, and reissue you a card with a new number immediately.
Tip 9: Avoid Magnets
The most common way that a credit card becomes demagnetized is when it is close to a magnet. Usually, purses and wallets are the ones to blame for damaging a credit card and making it unreadable. A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit card over 1 inch away from any magnet. In the event that your strip has been compromised, you can ask the cashier to manually input your card information. Then, you can contact your card issuer for a new credit card. When you get your new card, be sure to properly dispose of your credit card by completely destroying it through a shredder. Dispose of the parts in separate trash bags so a thief cannot piece it back together.
Tip 10: Avoid the Dryer and Sharp Objects
One other way that a credit card gets damaged is when it is exposed to heat. The chip and magnetic strip can get warped and become unreadable. Similarly, if the credit card is scratched or physically damaged, you will need to contact your credit card issuer to request a new card. Be sure to call the number on the back of your card or go to their official website. Be careful of fake websites that lead you to a fake number and ask for your personal information.
Credit cards are incredibly convenient if used properly. However, we need to demonstrate a measure of precaution to make it more difficult for thieves to go shopping using our line of credit. By taking care of your card and shopping responsibly, your credit card will continue to reward you for years to come.