Step up the safety of your credit cards with these 9 security-focused tips

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 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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
    1. 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 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

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Man doing his banking online is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.