Widely used by modern consumers, credit cards make it easy to purchase products and services just about anywhere in the United States (or most anywhere else), and all without the need to carry around large amounts of cash. But credit cards’ popularity and ease of use also make them popular among a significantly large group of unintended users: fraudsters.
In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, credit card fraud is the most widespread type of identity theft in the United States. And security.org research shows that 65% of credit and debit card users — an estimated 151 million U.S. consumers — have fallen victim to credit card fraud at least once.
But concerned consumers don’t have to allow themselves to become one of these victims. By taking a few security-related steps, they can reduce the chances that scammers will gain access to their credit card information — and lower the odds of unauthorized users running up charges in their name.
To help keep your credit card account and your personal information safer, consider implementing these nine tactics aimed at better securing your credit and debit cards:
- Don’t carry too many cards: By carrying just one or two credit cards in your wallet or purse at a time — rather than all or most of the credit and debit cards that you possess — you’ll limit your exposure to fraud and other unauthorized use should your wallet or purse ever be lost or misplaced. (Further, you’ll have fewer cards to have to report as lost or stolen if your wallet or purse ever goes missing.)
- Keep your card info filed away: In case your cards ever go missing, it’s a good idea to have all the important card details — including the card number, expiration date, and the phone number and address of the card issuer — stored away in a safe place. This way, it will be much easier to quickly report them as lost or stolen if they ever go missing.
- Destroy old, unneeded records: Once you’ve paid off old bills and no longer need them for record-keeping purposes, be sure to shred or otherwise destroy them. This will help prevent scammers from being able to use such no-longer-needed documents to glean the personal and financial info they sometimes use to steal consumers’ identities.
- Protect your PIN and account info: Never write your credit card details down on a postcard or the outside of an envelope that is to be mailed, as this could make it easy for a scammer to see and fraudulently use this information. Further, it’s best to avoid ever giving your credit card (or credit card details) to anyone else who’s not on the account — even a trusted friend. And it’s also wise to refrain from ever passing along your credit card details to anyone over the telephone or the internet unless you initiated the transaction.
- Be scam-skeptical: Especially when shopping online, where encountering fraudulent websites can be commonplace, always be on the lookout for suspicious requests and offers. To familiarize yourself with some of the common red flags for fraudulent websites and phishing attempts, check out this Arthur State Bank blog article titled “7 Simple and Effective Ways to Protect Yourself From Cybercrime.” And this Arthur State Bank blog article, titled “8 Ways to Protect Yourself Against ID Theft,” offers helpful insights on avoiding identity theft both online and in the real world.
- Pass on letting websites “remember” your card details: It can be convenient to let websites where you regularly make purchases store your credit card details for future use. But doing so adds another potential avenue for scammers to get your financial information via data leaks or other nefarious means. If you are going to allow sites to store your card info, make sure they employ highly secure payment portals and other advanced online protections.
- Review your charges regularly: When your monthly credit card statement arrives, be sure to check it carefully to make sure that you recognize all the charges. And by signing up for an online account for your credit card or downloading the credit card issuer’s app, you can even keep track of transactions in real time to ensure that no unfamiliar charges go through. In some cases, you can even sign up to receive digital alerts when suspicious activities are observed or charges exceeding user-specified amounts are made.
- Report issues immediately: If you do ever spot unauthorized charges on your account, contact your credit card issuer immediately to report/dispute them. Similarly, should your credit card ever be lost or stolen, alert the card issuer right away. In either case, the card issuer can take steps to reverse fraudulent charges and/or prevent more of them from going through.
- Keep an eye on your credit report: Federal law requires the three leading U.S. credit-reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report once a year. And by reviewing yours regularly, you can keep an eye out for errors and fraudulent activities (each of which could negatively impact your credit score) and report them so that they can be corrected. To request your credit report(s), visit annualcreditreport.com and fill out the online request form.
Looking to secure a credit card with several powerful security features built in? Apply for an Arthur State Bank credit card today!
Proudly serving South Carolina since 1933, Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs. To help you achieve all your financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help you with banking needs ranging from checking and savings to retirement accounts, mortgages, other personal loans and more, visit arthurstatebank.com.