Credit card safety tips; It is important that you know all of them. The last thing you want is someone racking up charges using your plastic. While all credit cards give you ways to fight fraudulent charges, it can be an arduous battle before you get those charges reversed or refunded back to you. Better safe than sorry.
Top 10 credit card safety tips
1. PIN Precautions
Writing your PIN on the back of the card. A real face palm moment. Just don’t do it! This is one of the most obvious “tips” out there. Though it is plain common sense, the number of people who still do it is mind boggling. What if you drop your card and it has a 4 digit number written on the signature panel? What do you think the person who finds such a card is going to think of that number? Your lucky number? Nope. Your year of birth? Nope. Your PIN for some free money? Most of the time, yes!
There might be people who will take the pains to destroy your card or even return your card to you. Then there are a lot of others who will go on a shopping spree and then dump your card.
Take an hour to memorize your credit card PIN number if you have to!
Another thing you shouldn’t do is tell your PIN to people around you. Whether it is your friend or that cashier who can’t bring the credit card machine to your table, there is no need to verbally tell them what the PIN is. Don’t write it down for them either. Make the trip to the machine yourself, to personally enter your PIN. It is called Personal Identification Number for a reason! Cover your hand with the other hand when entering your PIN. Don’t be ashamed about taking these precautions. You are just protecting your money and finances, not depriving anybody of anything.
Bonus tip! – Besides remembering your PIN rather than writing it down, try to also remember your CVV code if you can. If you can remember it, scratch it off the back of your card! It will prevent online purchases when in the wrong hands, as CVV is required for online purchases!
2. Credit card safety on the phone
Another important tip you must remember about your PIN or your credit card number is that you must never verbally give it out over the phone, even when you are calling your credit card company’s customer service hotline. Such hotlines will only require you to enter your credit card number and PIN through an automated IVR system. Many scams have originated right from the customer service offices of credit card companies, where one or two unscrupulous employees prey on unsuspecting customers by coaxing them out of their card number and PIN. They then sell this information to people or use it illegally themselves.
Even over an IVR, you must only enter your PIN when you are calling the credit card company, not the other way around! Representatives at credit card companies will usually want you to confirm your address and phone number, but never your credit card number and PIN.
If a customer service representative insists on you giving your card number or PIN number verbally, tell them you will only enter it through an IVR system. If they still say you have to “tell” them, just hang up and call back again. There is a very high chance that you will be put through an IVR system by another customer service representative, when you call back! Report the other customer rep for good measure as well, so they don’t try their phishing with someone else.
3. Check amount before you enter your PIN or sign!
Human error is possible when the cashier enters your charge into the credit card billing machine. There have been countless cases where a $12.34 charge becomes a $123.40 charge or when a simple $10 charge becomes a $100 charge. It is up to you to catch these discrepancies before you enter your PIN, to authorize these transactions.
If you catch the error later, you can always dispute the charge but it will require time and effort from your side, sometimes taking up to 7 days to get the disputed charge refunded back to your account.
Only enter your PIN if you see the charge amount displayed on the screen, when you are being prompted to enter your PIN. It will show at the top of the screen. If it doesn’t show, ask the cashier to reset the process and check to see if he or she is entering the charge amount properly.
4. Check your statements and keep receipts until the end of your billing cycle
Most people never check their credit card statements. They just “assume” that their outstanding is so much. But, even if you miss remembering just one purchase or even one payment that you made for that matter, your back of the mind calculations are all going to go for a toss. Moreover, there are interest charges and potential late charges etc that can change your balance owed, your credit limit and your minimum due. Always check your statement when you receive it, to see if everything is in order.
You must also save all your credit card customer receipts until they show up on your statement, at least until the end of the billing cycle in which you rang up such charges. Saving a receipt will help you quickly dispute over charges on your card, particularly with restaurant bills, where restaurants wrongly add up what you tipped before presenting the charge.
5. Upgrade your credit card to a chip based one
Swipe went out of fashion quite a while ago. Now, credit card companies usually issue cards that come with a micro chip on them, one you have to insert into the card reader rather than swipe. If your card has a chip, insist that the vendor insert the card and not swipe it.
If your card only has the old magnetic strip on it, call your credit card company hotline and request them to send you an upgraded card with a micro chip on it. This upgrade should be free. In fact, your card company would have automatically done this on their own, as all companies are trying to phase out cards with just a magnetic strip on them.
6. Store credit card numbers and customer service numbers for emergency purposes
Most people realize that they have lost their credit card within an hour of doing so. Ideally, you want to be able to block your credit card within that same one hour as well. It will help if you have your credit card number and the customer service phone numbers handy. You can save this information in a safe place, either physically or digitally, like in email, and pull it out when you need it urgently.
Calling and blocking your card early will dramatically reduce the chances of credit card fraud as your card company can block your credit card at a moment’s notice, when you make a request.
7. Check to see if your credit card receipts display your full card number
Receipts generated by credit card companies should ideally only display the last 4 digits of your card number, with the preceding 12 digits usually in the xxxx-xxxx-xxxx format. If for some reason your card number is displayed fully, question the vendor as to why this is happening.
Use a pen to strike off your credit card number, in both the customer receipt as well as the merchant receipt, even if it means that you will get into an argument.
8. Be extra careful when you use your credit card online
When you use your credit card online, be doubly careful about the website where you use your card. The website MUST have a https:// address prefix. DO NOT USE your card if the web address on your payment page has just a http:// address. This essentially means that the page has no encryption and hackers can capture your card information if they want to. Also, no online transaction will ever ask for your credit card PIN!
It is also good practice to sign up for Verified for Visa or such a similar service, where you enter a password or OTP sent to your phone, to double confirm a purchase.
9. Don’t save your credit card details at online sites
Most shopping sites that you frequent will give you an option to save your credit card details, to make your checkout process easier the next time you shop. This is a convenience you can sacrifice for the sake of your credit card safety.
Though large shopping sites like Amazon spend a ton of money on security, breaches at such large companies is not uncommon. Remember the massive and scary data leak at Target? Depositing your credit card details out there somewhere on the cloud is not really worth it, especially when doing so saves you just a minute or two in time when checking out at a site.
Removing credit card details at shopping sites will also give you an extra minute or two to avoid unnecessary purchases!
10. Update your address when you move or update contact details when you change phone numbers!
This is very important! If you move and not inform your credit card company, your statements will continue to be sent to your old address. Someone could possibly receive your statements and be privy to all your credit card activity.
It is also extremely important that you update your phone number the moment you change it. It is not uncommon for a dropped number to go back into circulation, sometimes almost immediately. You don’t want some random person receiving your credit card updates!
Make sure you update your work address if you change jobs as well, because work addresses are usually treated as alternative addresses for correspondence.
11. Get a RFID protective sleeve for your credit card!
Did you know that there are people out there who walk around with scanners or skimmers that they position very close to your butt, assuming you keep your wallet there, to capture your credit card details. The scanner they carry interacts with the micro chip if they get close enough, like when standing at a crowded cashiers line.
This is where a credit card protector sleeve can help, cutting off the interaction between scanners and your card.
There you go, credit card safety tips that when followed will greatly minimize the chances of credit card misuse and fraud! We hope you will put them to good use.