Identity theft is becoming scarily common. Whether a card number is hacked online or stolen from a restaurant or store, the trouble that a stolen credit card number causes you can be long-lasting and difficult to fix. If you rely on your credit cards for either in-person or online commerce, it’s up to you to keep your cards safe. Here are some important tips to follow.
Be Cautious About Who Gets Your Number
Some of these are simple common sense, but making sure that you follow these common sense tips all the time can save you from a world of problems. If you are not sure about a person who is asking for your number, don’t give it. If you are on the phone, don’t give out your card number at all unless you initiated the call and you are sure the number is the right one for the person, company, or service you are trying to reach. Online, stick with known retailers and reputable stores. Be careful about following links from emails or social media, because it’s very easy to make an email which looks like it comes from Amazon or eBay, but is not actually associated with them at all. Clicking a link in that email could take you directly to a scam site, and if you enter any information there, you’re handing it directly to the wrong people. Instead, type the name of the website you want to visit into your web browser yourself, and then search for the items you want.
When using your card in person, don’t write the number down anywhere unless you really have to. Especially don’t write it on the outside of envelopes or on paper that somebody else could walk off with. Don’t give your card number to anyone who doesn’t have a direct reason to use it, and make sure you know what the reason is. When using your card in restaurants, draw a line through any blank spaces where an amount could be filled in, unless you are writing in a number yourself. This prevents an unscrupulous server from quietly adding on to their tip. Finally, keep your receipts and check them against your statements. This kind of credit monitoring can’t prevent problems, but it can find them more quickly and hopefully make them easier to resolve.
If you are very concerned about credit card theft or identity theft, consider getting some backup. There are services which will monitor your credit information and watch out for signs that improper use of your card numbers is happening. These services are able to block transactions that seem wrong and contact you to verify if those transactions are legitimate. You will need to pay for this kind of protection, but it may be worth it for the extra peace of mind you will receive. It’s worth noting, too, that credit card companies themselves often monitor card use and are able to flag purchases that fall outside of a cardholder’s usual range of purchases. Credit card companies are also vigilant against credit card fraud and want to keep your information safe.