Gone are the days when one needed to carry cash everywhere to make payments. Today, all you need in your wallet is your credit card, as everything is just a swipe and a few clicks away.
There’s one catch to that though; financial fraud is witnessing a significant growth, which means that all of your money can be in real danger if you don’t know how to protect your credit card information adequately.
Worry not, as all you need is to learn a few tips and follow some simple guidelines, most of which are common sense, and your hard-earned cash will be safe from any electronic or physical robberies.
So, how can you protect your credit card info? Simple, follow these simple guidelines:
How to Protect Your Credit Card Information from Online Fraud
The internet can be a dangerous place for your data if you don’t know what you’re doing, so make sure to be extra careful when using your credit card information online. Here are some tips on how to do so effectively:
Start by Securing Your Computer and Devices
This step is a no-brainer, but we have to go through it as it’s critical if you want to protect your info properly. The first thing you need to do to safeguard your credit card information and any of your data is to protect your computer from viruses sent by hackers to exploit your device and info. To do that, make sure to install the most recent anti-virus and anti-spyware software onto your computer and any device you own, including your smartphone and tablet, as they’re equally prone to viruses.
Be Extra Careful when Visiting a Link from an Email
More often than not, email links can lead to fake checkout pages that mimic the design of PayPal, eBay, or Amazon pages to fool you into giving out your credit card information and other credentials while thinking that you’re making a legitimate purchase on a real site. In the cybersecurity lingo, that’s called phishing, and scammers have been using it to steal people’s money and information for years. To avoid such as scams, check every link you visit to make sure you’re on the right site before typing any details. Also, avoid clicking any link in unsolicited emails.
Use Strong Passwords and Keep Them Safe
Strong passwords can go a long way in protecting your data, including your credit card information, from fraud. Your credit card number is most likely stored in different websites – such as Amazon and PayPal – to make one-click purchases. When setting the password for such sites, make sure to use a different key phrase on each one of them, and use a combination of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters whenever it’s possible.
Don’t Use Your Credit Card on Unsecured Websites
Although online purchases are fast, simple, and easy, using your credit card information can be dangerous if the site isn’t secured. To have the safest online shopping experience, don’t use your credit card on any online checkout page unless the site is reputable and secure.
Don’t just take the site’s word for that. Make sure to check some reviews and do your own diligence, especially if your card is linked to your main bank account in which you save all of your money.
Visually, to check whether a page is secure or not, take a look at the address bar of your browser. There, the URL should begin with https:// rather than http://, and your browser should display a lock icon in the lower right corner. Again, that doesn’t mean that the safe is entirely safe, so make sure you’re dealing with a reputable business.
Avoid Free Wi-Fi Networks
Some scammers set up free Wi-Fi Hotspots in train stations, coffee shops, and other crowded location that don’t require a password to connect to the network. Any information you send over such a network, including usernames, passwords, and credit card information, can be seen by the hacker. In some instances, they can even access your browser history or decrypt information sent through secure portals. To avoid such scams, be extra wary when using free Wi-Fi networks.
If you’re in a coffee shop that offers a free hotspot, make sure you’re connected to the right network before doing anything. As a matter of fact, avoid making online purchases and using sensitive data when you’re browsing the internet over such a network unless it’s necessary, even if you’re in a reputable place or location.
Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit Cards
When using a Debit card, you’re liable for up to 500 dollars in fraud (since the money is deducted directly from your checking account), whereas using a credit card reduces the amount at risk to 50 dollars. When shopping online, use a credit card whenever it’s possible, after taking all of the above precautions. That way, even if you fall for a scam, the risk is minimal.
Avoid Making Purchase from a Public or Shared Device
Have you ever heard of keyloggers before? Basically, they’re simple programs with one single goal; capturing all keystrokes, including password, login credentials, and credit card information.
While it’s hard to get one installed on your personal computer by someone else (if you’re only one using it that is), public computers present the perfect playground for keylogger scammers.
If you use a public computer to make a purchase, your credit card information may end up in the wrong hands, so avoid such a practice. You can make most purchases with your smartphone anyway, so use it whenever it’s possible.
How to Protect Your Credit Card Information from Offline Fraud
Protect Your Physical Credit Card
The first thing you need to do to protect your credit card information is to secure the physical card and keep it safe from thieves. For that, make sure to put your card in a wallet or purse that’s close to your body to protect it from snatchers, especially if you live in a high-traffic area.
As a general rule of thumb, never carry more than what you need. If you have more than one credit card, only take those that you’re actually going to use when you go out. Also, don’t keep your credit card exposed for too long as thieves can snap a picture with a smartphone or camera.
Never Give Out Your Credit Card Information on the Phone
No matter the reason, never give out your credit card information, or any sensitive data for that matter, for anyone on the phone unless you’re confident that it’s necessary and that you’re talking to an authentic agent. Make sure the person you’re calling is indeed an employee of a reputable company or organization before giving out your credit card number.
Report Lost or Stolen Credit Cards Immediately
If you lose your credit card for one reason or the other, make sure to contact your card issuer as soon as possible to cancel the card and prevent fraudulent charges.
Check your monthly Credit Card Statement
Don’t just toss your credit card statements into the trash whenever you receive them. Instead, check every transaction to make sure no authorized charges were allowed, as they’re the first sign of fraud. Should you notice a purchase that you didn’t make or allow, contact your card issuer immediately to either close the account or get a new account number to prevent any credit card fraud.
Shred Your Old Credit Card and PIN Letters
Credit card statements are like the winning lottery tickets for dumpster divers, so make sure to shred any document containing your credit card information before tossing it into the trash. If you’re too paranoid, you can spread the shredded pieces over several trash bags to outsmart those who are willing to put the document pages back together.